Hopping Insect Evolved Gears for Precision Jumping

Hopping Insect Evolved Gears for Precision Jumping

Here’s a strange little blast from the past. The hopping insect Issus coleoptratus evolved gears in its joints that synchronize the motion of its hind legs during jumps. Although humans developed mechanical gears sometime around 300 B.C.E., this is the first example of functional gears occurring in nature.

Biologists at the University of Cambridge first discovered the structure in juvenile planthoppers. The gears coordinate the insect’s hind legs to push off at the same time and keep the bug on course when it jumps. Broken teeth are replaced with successive molts.

The planthopper ages out of gears in its adult stage, though. Then it has to rely on interlocking protrusions on its hind legs. Not so fancy anymore, but functional.

Source: Smithsonian


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