(CN) — The secret to the swordfish’s speed may have been revealed when scientists found that one of the world’s fastest fish lubricates itself with a performance-enhancing grease.
Dutch researchers discovered that the base of the fish’s sword has an oil-producing gland, connected by capillaries and pores to the skin of its head. Their work was published July 6 in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
“This isn’t ordinary fish slime,” lead author John Videler said. “No one knows how fast a swordfish can go.”
While they may be able to swim at 100 kilometers per hour (61 mph), no one has measured a swordfish at full speed.
Videler told National Geographic that the concave hollow at the front of its head theoretically should increase drag. But having found that swordfish secrete grease, Videler thinks now that the hollow is shaped so that water flowing past it creates low pressure, which sucks oil out of the gland, allowing the fish to automatically lubricate itself.”We still have to find some way of doing experiments to visualize the flow of water (over the bill),” Videler said. “We can’t do that on live swordfish.”
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