1. 1.

    Decapod Crustacea display a slow metachronal rhythm of the third maxillipeds and pereiopod pairs one to four when undisturbed in the natural habitat. The dactyl tips are lifted off the substrate, and the unweighted limbs promote and remote at a slow frequency (range for all species 9–30 min−1). Movement is limited to the T-C joint.

  2. 2.

    This behaviour, called waving, has been observed in many macrurans and an analogous activity, limited to the third maxillipeds, has been seen in several brachyurans.

  3. 3.

    Analysis of EMGs shows: (a) the promotor activity increases in strength during a burst due to facilitation and motoneurone recruitment; (b) the rhythm period is stable throughout long waving sessions; (c) the promotor and remotor strokes are of equal duration and co-vary with period.

  4. 4.

    Ipsilateral coupling is strong, with equal phases between adjacent limbs of 0.05. The metachronal wave can pass anteriorly or posteriorly along an ipsilateral row.

  5. 5.

    Bilateral coupling is weak. The two sides maintain equal frequency, and antiphasic coordination between the two ipsilateral sets of limbs is favoured.

  6. 6.

    Possible functions for waving include gill grooming and supplementary gill ventilation.

  7. 7.

    Comparisons between waving and other rhythmical motor programmes are discussed. Waving is an alternative programme for the walking legs, and is expressed when proprioceptive feedback is reduced.

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