Image of young planthopper by study author Malcolm Burrows.

Image of young planthopper by study author Malcolm Burrows.

Scientists have discovered what they believe is the first example of interacting gears in young planthopper insects, Issus coleoptratus. The gears are on the upper portion of the insect’s rear legs and help ensure the legs work in unison when the insect jumps. These gears are lost as the animal ages and are thus rather like training gears.

Image of functional gears on the hind limb of a planthopper from study author Dr. Malcolm Burrows. The view is looking up from underneath the insect.

Image of functional gears on the hind limb of a plant-hopping insect from study author Dr. Malcolm Burrows.

Dr. Malcom Burrows (Emeritus Professor of Neurobiology at the University of Cambridge, UK) was quoted in Live Science as saying “To the best of my knowledge, it’s the first demonstration of functioning gears in any animal.”

Here is a video of the gears in action:

Source:

Burrows M, Sutton G. Interacting gears synchronize propulsive leg movements in a jumping insect. Science. 341(6151):1254-1256, 2013.

Comments

  1. #1 Dr.A.jagadeesh
    India
    September 17, 2013

    Great article. Cockroaches,Firefly and other insects offer great ideas for adoption. Bio mimicking at its best.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

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    September 18, 2013

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  3. #3 cosmicrabbit
    Ireland
    September 20, 2013

    Yes, I wonder which HOX clusters made that?

  4. #4 EM83
    September 25, 2013

    Really cool…it says in the LA times that researchers weren’t even looking for these gears when they came across them. Now that scientists are aware of these gears they can look for them in other organisms.

    http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-leg-gears-20130914,0,1476077.story