For power and precision, leaping insect gets into gear
Friday, September 13, 2013 - 00:47
Sept. 13 - Video showing the first known example of a gear mechanism in nature has been released by British scientists. Their research shows that the common garden insect, Issus, has hind-leg joints containing cog-like strips that intermesh when moving, allowing it to leap with power and precision. Jim Drury has more.
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The juvenile Issus can leap many times its own body length, using machine-like gears, a mechanism never before observed in nature.
The nymph's hind-leg joints have cog-like strips of opposing 'teeth' that intermesh, rotating to synchronise its legs when jumping.
These gears resemble those found in bicycles and car gear-boxes, but are only found in Issus's juvenile stages.
Co-authors, Malcolm Burrows and Gregory Sutton, of Cambridge and Bristol universities, say the gears weren't spotted before because scientists weren't looking.
The plant-hopping Issus is common in European gardens, but these findings are likely to increase its popularity among scientists and mechanical engineers as well.
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