Gearlike legs propel the plant hopping Issus to nearly 400 G’s

Sep 13, 2013
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For the first time in nature, an insect has been shown to use a set of gears to aid in jumping. Said insect is the Issus coleoptratus and it can be found throughout Europe as well as in parts of the Near East and North Africa. This particular incest is a planthopper found mostly on European climbing ivy and it belongs to the Issidae family. But key for today is the gear-like legs that cause this insect to be a champion jumper.

Specifically, it was said the Issus coleoptratus is able to use these gears to accelerate to nearly 400 G's in two milliseconds. The discovery and the research comes by way of Dr. Burrows and Gregory Sutton out of the University of Bristol. The research has been shared in the most recent edition of Science Magazine and it demonstrates how this insect is able to use the gear-like teeth located on each of the legs.

These were first discovered and mentioned back in the 1950's, however it was not until the use of high-speed video that it was able to be proven. Dr. Burrows notes how the insect hooks the teeth from one leg to the other and uses the combination to leap forward. Burrows has said this means "the power is delivered to both legs at the same time, so no leg is twisted.” And slightly more interesting is that the legs are synchronized within 30 millionths of a second.

gearlike-legs

Researchers aren't entirely sure why the insect has developed in such a way, though speculation points towards this being more if a defensive need and helps in providing a quick escape. Of course, that doesn't give any clue as to why the Issus does not have these gear-like legs throughout their entire life. Further details coming from the article mention how them as they move closer to becoming an adult.

VIA: NYT

TOP IMAGE: Sarefo via Wikipedia


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