They create drag to reduce drag much like the tripwires on the TYR Aquashift were created to do. From ABC News: "...Shortfin mako sharks can shoot through the ocean at up to 50 miles per hour (80 kilometres an hour). Now a trick that helps them to reach such speeds has been discovered – the sharks can raise their scales to create tiny wells across the surface of their skin, reducing drag like the dimples on a golf ball. ..." [Link]
Wiki on TYR Aquashift tripwires: "... The tripwires or "turbulators" are placed at several spots along the length of the suit including the chest, where a set of four tripwires runs across the whole chest, the buttocks (where a single tripwire is placed), the shoulders, and, if a swimmer has an Aquashift swim cap there is a trip wire on his or her head. Normally water hits the head and shoulders and immediately breaks, creating turbulence. However, with the addition of the tripwire, the water is forced to keep its flow consistent along the entire surface of the swimmer. The water flow is disrupted strategically so that it will break and reassemble, thereby keeping the flow stable across the entire body. The tripwires are made to be exactly congruent in height around the entire body, in an attempt to make them as effective as possible at disrupting the water flow. A patent is currently pending on the tripwires used in this suit. The suit was the co-invention of University at Buffalo professors Dr. David Pendergast, Dr. Joe Mollendorf, and Head Swimming Coach Budd Termin. The subjects for the study consisted of the men's and women's swimming team members at the University at Buffalo. ..." [Link]
I think this research validates the technology on TYR's part and I find it amusing that FINA ruled tripwire technology illegal but the LZR and it's analogs are okay?