Press release

Moving slowly (very slowly) but like a shark


Patella vulgata
Patella vulgata

A study published in Royal Society Open Science and coordinated by Isc-Cnr reports that limpets (snails) move like sharks and human hunters, albeit more slowly. Limpets are a common sight in rockpools. These ancient animals have been slowly farming algae for hundreds of millions of years. They are one of the most ancient forms of animal living amongst us. Their movements are barely discernible but to the patient eye they are astonishing, as the new study makes clear. Their movement patterns resemble those seen in sharks and other predators, including human hunters. Patterns of movement usually associated with optimized searching. The new study shows that this remarkable searching ability may be fundamental to how molluscs experience the world in life's slow lane. Looking even closer reveals a cornucopia of bizarre mathematical features, including chaos and fractals, that will fascinate both biologists and mathematicians.

Who: Istituto dei sistemi complessi del Cnr; Università di Firenze; Rothamstead Research (Uk).

What: Studio sul movimento delle patelle pubblicato su 'Royal Society Open Science'

'The Weierstrassian movement patterns of snails' Andy Reynolds, Giacomo Santini, Guido Chelazzi, Stefano Focardi Published 7 June 2017.DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160941

For further information: Stefano Focardi, Isc-Cnr, tel. + 39 055/522 6693, e-mail:

Capo ufficio stampa:
Marco Ferrazzoli
06 4993 3383
skype marco.ferrazzoli1