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Locomotion & Movement

In Paramoecium, cilia helps in the movement of food through cytopharynx and in locomotion as well.

Hydra can use its tentacles for capturing its prey and also use them for locomotion.

All locomotions are movements but all movements are not locomotions.


Cells of the human body exhibit three main types of movements, namely, amoeboid, ciliary and muscular.

Some specialised cells in our body like macrophages and leucocytes in blood exhibit amoeboid movement. It is effected by pseudopodia formed by the streaming of protoplasm (as in Amoeba). Cytoskeletal elements like microfilaments are also involved in amoeboid movement.

Ciliary movement occurs in most of our internal tubular organs which are lined by ciliated epithelium. The coordinated movements of cilia in the trachea help us in removing dust particles and some of the foreign substances inhaled alongwith the atmospheric air. Passage of ova through the female reproductive tract is also facilitated by the ciliary movement.

Movement of our limbs, jaws, tongue, etc, require muscular movement. The contractile property of muscles are effectively used for locomotion and other movements by human beings and majority of multicellular organisms.

Locomotion requires a perfect coordinated activity of muscular, skeletal and neural systems.


Locomotion takes several forms such as walking (man), creeping (earthworm, lizard), cursorial (Horse, flightless birds), hopping (frog, rabbit), running (dog, horse), flying (insects, birds) and swimming (fish, whale).

Animals have suitable adaptations for their specific mode of locomotion, Adaptations for running, hopping, swimming and flying are respectively called cursorial, saltatorials, natatorial, and volant adaptations. Morphogenetic movement, i.e., the streaming of cells in the early embryo to form tissues' or organs, may be considered a form of locomotion.

Locomotion in different animals:

(i) Locomotion in Protozoa: Locomotion in protozoans by the help of cilia, flagella and pseudopodia.

(ii) Locomotion in Porifera: Sponges are sedentary or fixed animals which are always attached to some substratum. Hence locomotion never takes place.

(iii) Locomotion in Coelentrates: Locomotion in coelentrates is largely due to the contraction of the epidermal muscle fibres. Following type of movements take place in coelenterates.

(a) Swimming

(b) Floating

(c) Surfacing

(d) Climbing

(e) Walking

(f) Gliding

(g) Somersaulting

(h) Looping

(i)  Bending swaying movement.

(j) Locomotion in Helminths: In helminths (platyhelminthes and aschelminthes) locomotion is not required by adult due to parasitic adaptations. However in miracidia (a larva) locomotion occurs by cilia, in cercaria larva by tail. In Ascaris 15% locomotion occurs by cuticle fiber. In plana ria, locomotion is by cilia and muscles.

(k) Locomotion in Annelids: Leech, Earthworm and Nereis have well developed circular and longitudinal muscles in the body wall that help these animals to move about. Parapodia and setae are helpful for locomotion in nereis. In earthworm also locomotion occurs by setae.

(l)   Locomotion in Arthropods: In arthropods, locomotion takes place with the help of jointed legs, and a pair of wings. Cockroaches, housefly etc., move from one place to another by legs (walking) as by wings (flight) both. Palaemon or prawn crawls at bottom by pairs of walking legs. Palamnaeus or Indian scorpion used 4 pairs of walking legs. All insects used 3 pair of walking legs for locomotion.

(m)  Locomotion in Mollusca: In all the molluscs, the locomotory organ is a thick walled, muscular, broad or laterally compressed foot. In some molluscs, the foot is modified into eight or ten arms (e.g., Sepia, Loligo, Octopus etc). Foot is chiefly a locomotory organ in unio and pila both. In Neopilina also locomotion occurs by foot. In sepia, loligo locomotion occurs by fins mainly.

(n) Locomotion in Echinodermata: In echinoderms such as starfish, the locomotory organs are tube feet and locomotion takes place by water vascular system, which set up a hydraulic pressure. The tube feet are associated with this system intimately. At the time of locomotion, one or two arms of a side work as main structures.

(o)   Locomotion in vertebrates: In vertebrates, locomotion takes place with the help of skeletal muscles, and skeleton. The locomotory organs are a pair of legs.

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