On the Smithsonian, a fascinating look at the small hopping insect Issus coleoptratus, the only animal to use toothed gears "to precisely synchronize the kicks of its hind legs as it jumps forward." The above image, which has been magnified with an electron microscope, is credit to Emeritus Professor Malcom Burrows at the Department of Zoology of the University of Cambridge.
The main mystery is the fact that adults of the same insect species dont have any gearingas the juveniles grow up and their skin molts away, they fail to regrow these gear teeth, and the adult legs are synchronized by an alternate mechanism (a series of protrusions extend from both hind legs, and push the other leg into action).
Burrows and Sutton hypothesize that this could be explained by the fragility of the gearing: if one tooth breaks, it limits the effectiveness of the design. This isnt such a big problem for the juveniles, who repeatedly molt and grow new gears before adulthood, but for the mature Issus, replacing the teeth would be impossiblehence the alternate arrangement.
There have been gear-like structures previously found on other animals (like the spiny turtle or the wheel bug), but theyre purely ornamental. This seems to be the first natural design that mechanically functions like our geared systems.
|Can A Narrow Signal Carry Intelligence?|
|Let There Be Aliens|
|"Is it possible that you're pooping all wrong?"|
|Electromagnetic Wormhole Created in a Lab|
|"If we develop these anti-aging technologies, who will have access to them?"|
|“Social robots will be uniquely personal.”|
|“When Life Gives You Lemons.”|
|How to Avoid Jury Duty|
|“The more employees are watched, the harder they try to avoid being watched.”|
|Japanese Robot Serves Ice Cream From Inside a Vending Machine|
|The (Very Scary) People of Public Transit|
|CaptchaTweet: Write Tweets in Captcha Form|
|Why, Typewriters Are Alive and Well, Thank you|
|“Robots are key to a new wave of local agriculture.”|
|“The prospects and future of AI.”|
|“Long live the instant gratification economy—and the increasingly sophisticated technology that’s enabling it.”|