The pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis can often be observed moving upside down on its back just below the surface of the water. We have termed this form of movement "upside-down gliding." To elucidate the mechanism of this locomotion, we performed a series of experiments involving behavioral analyses and microscopic observations. These experiments were designed (1) to measure the speed of this locomotion; (2) to determine whether the mucus secreted from the foot of Lymnaea repels water, thereby allowing the snail to exploit the surface tension of the water for upside-down gliding; and (3) to observe the beating of foot cilia in this behavior. The beating of these cilia is thought to be the primary driving force for upside-down gliding. Our results demonstrate that upside-down gliding is an efficient active process involving the secretion of mucus that floats up to the water surface to serve as a substrate upon which cilia beat to cause locomotion at the underside of the water surface.
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