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A new model of respiration in blastoid (Echinodermata) hydrospires based on computational fluid dynamic simulations of virtual 3D models

  • Johnny A. Waters (a1), Lyndsie E. White (a1), Colin D. Sumrall (a2) and Bonnie K. Nguyen (a1)

Hydrospires are internal structures in blastoids that primarily served a respiratory function. Historically, hydrospires have been modeled as passive-flow respiratory structures with a vertical orientation. This project constructed virtual 3D models of blastoids from legacy acetate peel collections at the Naturalis Museum in the Netherlands. Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations of the blastoid models reconstructed in living position indicated that hydrospires likely were oriented horizontally when the blastoid was in feeding mode in current velocities>0.5 cm/s to 10 cm/s. In this range of current velocities, passive water flow through the hydrospires did not produce conditions optimized for efficient gas exchange. However, optimal water flow through the hydrospires could be achieved if the excurrent velocity of water exiting the hydrospire through the spiracle was approximately one-half the velocity of ambient environmental currents. Maintaining such a ratio in the dynamic current systems in which blastoids lived suggests that cilia-driven active water flow through the hydrospires is a better model for optimizing respiratory effectiveness.

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Journal of Paleontology
  • ISSN: 0022-3360
  • EISSN: 1937-2337
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-paleontology
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