In at least one species of caterpillar, the gut appears to slide freely back and forth, untethered to the surrounding tissue - an unusual mechanism that might help the insect digest food while it crawls up stems in search of its leafy meals.
"What they're describing here, as far as I know, has never been described in any other animal," said zoologist linkurl:Michael LaBarbera,;http://pondside.uchicago.edu/oba/faculty/labarbera_m.html who studies invertebrate biomechanics at the University of Chicago and was not involved in the study, published this week in linkurl:__Current Biology.__;http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822%2810%2900807-9 For __Manduca sexta__ caterpillars, crawling begins in the back of their approximately five centimeter long bodies. They lift up their rear legs, initiating a wave of contractions and elongations that eventually reaches the head. It seemed reasonable for first author of the paper, linkurl:Michael Simon;http://ase.tufts.edu/bdl/studentSimon.asp at Tufts...
model organism in neurophysiology
Image:Salzbrot via Wikimedia Commons
M.A. Simon, et al., "Visceral-Locomotory Pistoning in Crawling Caterpillars" Current Biology, doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.06.059, 2010.