Thursday, 12 September 2013

Insect leg has living mechanical gears

Scanning electron view of leg joint

Issus nymph
Astonishing to learn that a tiny insect has real living gears for leg joints.  I thought only people had invented them.  They are found in the plant hopping leg joints of juvenile Issus.  The gears solve a jumping problem, getting all the parts of the leg to synchronize suddenly in thirty millionths of a second, way faster than the nerves could set up the jump, guaranteeing a controlled jump that doesn't spin out of control.  See photo.   hat tip Science Daily News reporting on Cambridge research.

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