You will first see an explanation of deep ocean vents on Earth, and those are never boring. Jack Cohen makes an appearance again, to speculate about similar vents in Europan seas or lakes. The vents are surrounded with walls built by bacteria that stretch upwards to form very long tubes. The speculation really gets underway when it deals with the ecosystem surrounding these tubes. There are creatures that can bite or drill through the wall of the tube, after which they gorge themselves on bacteria from within the tube. Of course there are predators out there too, preying on the 'grazers'.
Click to enlarge; copyright BBC
Here is a picture of a bacterivore; the predators have almost exactly the same shape. There is a feeding trunk on the front end of the animal, underneath the central opening. There is another opening in the front end of the animal; what is it for? Unfortunately, the documentary keeps completely silent about the body plan of these animals, which is a pity.
There is an opening right at the front, and one at the back. The one in the front is not for feeding. Perhaps these are the inlet and outlet openings of its respiratory system. After all, there is no reason to have air go in and out through the same opening, as is the case in Earth's tetrapods. Actually, using the same opening for air moving in and out is not good engineering, and is probably just a remnant of lungs starting as a sac with just one opening. In Earth's fish, waters enter the mouth and leave through its sides after having passed through the gills; a much better design! Obviously, evolution should be able to find other solutions on other worlds: air enters the lungs of Furahan hexapods through openings at the front of the trunk, and exits the body at its rear end (not that you can see that on any of the paintings on the site, but is true nevertheless).
Click to enlarge; copyright Gert van Dijk
Then again, the Europan bacteriovore's openings might have to do with propulsion, in which case these animals would have the same propulsion system as is found on Furaha. Just visit the page, choose the 'water' icon; choose 'swimming with...', and then got to the 'tubes' page. There you are. To save you the trouble I copied the image to this blog message; mind you, the image shows the external appearance of the animal; to understand how it works you still have to visit the page. I doubt that this propulsion system was separately invented for the Europan creatures. If so much thought would have gone into their design, you would think that this neat feature would be mentioned, and it isn't.
Still, there is something else about their propulsion that makes me wonder. The animals have a set of three fins around their body, more or less like the pectoral and back fins of sharks and dolphins. This makes sense, as three such fins are useful in countering rotations around the body's front-to-aft axis. You would want such fins near the centre of the body, as they would impede movements around the other axes if placed at the front or the rear of the animal. These animals indeed have three such wings right where you would expect them, around the centre of mass. As an aside, you may well wonder why there are three. To counter rotations, two or four (or more) would work just as well. Their area may have to increase if you have fewer fins, and vice versa, but that does not seem to be an important factor. Some whales have large dorsal fins and some have no dorsal fins at all, so having two seems to work as well as having three. Why are there never four? Is this just an evolutionary accident? Perhaps it is easier to have more such fins at the bottom half of the animal than at the top half, if only to make it easier to keep the body upright.
Anyway, now have a look at the tail of Europan bacterivores: there is another, smaller, set of three fins. That only makes sense if the animal needs more to be kept on track like an arrow, but this 'triad' fin design is not optimal if you use the tail for propulsion. Suppose you wish to beat the tail in an up and down direction: with a triad set the top fin will be useless for propulsion. While moving upwards it might even start to bend sideways and then it would impair propulsion. The other two will not be perpendicular to the direction of movement and will therefore not provide optimal thrust. No, if you want a beating tail, the surfaces providing propulsion must be perpendicular to the direction of the beat, and surfaces not aiding in propulsion should not be in the way.
Whale shark / orca / orca; click to enlarge
The tails of sharks and whales provide excellent examples of this design. The pictures above were taken from the internet. The whale shark beats its tail sideways, and the 'stem' of the tail, just before the tail fin, is flattened sideways. In this way, there is room for the attachment of muscles and ligaments without impairing propulsion. The two photographs of orca's show that an orca's tail stem is flattened vertically, exactly as expected for an animal that beats its tail up and down.
Back to Europan bacterivores. Their tails suggest a mode of propulsion similar or identical to the ones I invented for Furaha. Convergent speculation once again? Possibly; remember that this type of propulsion results in linear motion without any externally visible means of propulsion. That is not what you see in the video. Instead, the predators near the end can be seen to swim with a strongly undulatory pattern, like the one you would expect for animals with sideways-beating tails.
I wonder what happened to cause this odd combination of a design plan with a movement pattern that doesn't seem to fit the plan. The people who designed these animals knew what they were doing, so the answer probably does not lie there. Perhaps the animators simply added a familiar type of movement to add some spice to the footage? That is possible: I remember from conversations with Steven Hanly that the movement of Eponan uthers in the same documentary did not come out as planned either. I doubt we will ever know.