Metachronal rhythm
A metachronal rhythm or metachronal wave refers to wavy movements produced by the sequential action (as opposed to synchronized) of structures such as cilia, segments of worms or legs. These movements produce the appearance of a travelling wave. A Mexican wave is a large scale example of a metachronal wave. This pattern is found widely in nature such as on the cilia of many aquatic organisms such as ctenophore
The Ctenophora are a phylum of animals that live in marine waters worldwide. Their most distinctive feature is the "combs", groups of cilia that they use for swimming, and they are the largest animals that swim by means of cilia – adults of various species range from a few millimeters to in size...

s, molluscs, ciliate
The ciliates are a group of protozoans characterized by the presence of hair-like organelles called cilia, which are identical in structure to flagella but typically shorter and present in much larger numbers with a different undulating pattern than flagella...

s as well as on the epithelial surfaces
Epithelium is one of the four basic types of animal tissue, along with connective tissue, muscle tissue and nervous tissue. Epithelial tissues line the cavities and surfaces of structures throughout the body, and also form many glands. Functions of epithelial cells include secretion, selective...

 of many body organs. Individual cilia, when part of a metachronal wave being used for protist locomotion, individually beat in a pattern similar to the planar stroke of a flagellum
A flagellum is a tail-like projection that protrudes from the cell body of certain prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, and plays the dual role of locomotion and sense organ, being sensitive to chemicals and temperatures outside the cell. There are some notable differences between prokaryotic and...

. The difference is that the recovery stroke is at 90 degrees to the power stroke, so that the cilia avoid hitting each other.
Metachronal rhythm may be seen in the coordinated movements of the legs of millipede
Millipedes are arthropods that have two pairs of legs per segment . Each segment that has two pairs of legs is a result of two single segments fused together as one...

s and other multi-legged land invertebrates.

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