Pygmy mole crickets don't just walk on water, they jump on it

Posted By News On December 3, 2012 - 5:31pm
Pygmy mole crickets don't just walk on water, they jump on it

That's when he discovered the insect's oar-like paddles on its legs, which are spring loaded with a protein called resilin that Burrows says is "the perfect elastic." As those oars penetrate the water, they fan out. The crickets then "grab" a ball of water, sending it downward as their bodies soar in the opposite direction and to safety.

This curious bug strategy might even have some practical use.

"If we want to make small robotic vehicles that move under water, this is how we would have to design propellers or oars," Burrows says. "We would also have to use a material as good as resilin to impart elasticity, restore shape, and reduce drag."

In the meantime, the discovery is yet another example of amazing animal feats.

"This is an animal that has to do many things with its legs: dig burrows in the ground, jump rapidly to escape predators on land, and get itself out of water before it is eaten or drowns. It has solved a hugely difficult problem with a multifunctional mechanism that can propel jumps on land and water."

Pygmy mole crickets are known to be prodigious jumpers on land. Now, researchers reporting in the Dec. 4 issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, have found that the tiny insects have found an ingenious method to jump from the water, too. Their secret is a series of spring-loaded, oar-like paddles on their back legs.

(Photo Credit: Burrows et al., Current Biology)

This is a pygmy mole cricket.

(Photo Credit: Burrows et al., Current Biology)

Source: Cell Press

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