Young animals and females rest in the same place for hours, their thoracic limbs beating rhythmically, moving respiratory currents of water through the carapace. The mature males may swim long distances propelled by the four anterior pairs of pleopods. Each of these pleopods is hooked to its partner so that each pair functions as a unit when swimming.

When placed in laboratory tanks or small, concave "dishes" of glassware (watch glasses) with mud, leptostracans will swim right to the bottom and burrow in. Frequently, not one part of the body is moved at all, and even the heartbeat slows down; these are functional and physiological adaptations to living in low-oxygen environments.

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