Desquamation is one of the ways that dolphin
s are able to swim as quickly as they do. As dolphins swim, their skin peels off in the water, to the tune of being completely replaced every two hours worth of swimming time.
Which is kinda gross, if you think about it.
But it's also a very good way to decrease drag
. The dolphin's skin is very soft, with a microscopically wavy texture that allows it to both peel off easily and distribute the jetties (officially called "vortices
") further away from the dolphin's path, thus mitigating much of the drag.
This was discovered in May, 2004, by a Japanese researcher named Yoshimichi Hagiwara
, working at the Kyoto Institute of Technology
, and was first published in the Journal of Turbulence
(which is in turn published by the Institute of Physics
), which is peer-reviewed
The effect was discovered by a complex computer modelling application, because experimental data regarding dolphins was rather hard to come by.
Info from iop.org