We humans are sooooo smart. Like, we invented the gear and all. This is what separates us from the animals.
Without gears, my drawbridge would be incapable of rising up, and I’d be out of a job. Without gears in my car’s transmission, I wouldn’t even be able to drive to the job. I also couldn’t take a bicycle. And on and on.
Gears are nifty. Whether you realize it or not, you can’t get through a day without a gear doing something or other for you. When’s the last time you used a can opener? Way to harness the world, mighty humans!
Um… except that we didn’t invent gears after all. Nature came to the same conclusion about the niftiness of gears long before we ever did. And we only found this out in 2013.
May I introduce you to Issus coleoptratus? Call him planthopper for short. He’s an insect that’s found in Europe and North Africa, and in his adolescent form, he has natural gears in his hind legs. The gears even have tapered teeth just like the gears we humans invented, and for the same reason: to prevent wear and tear.
These gears allow both of his hind legs to act in unison, so that he always hops in a straight line. That’s a useful tool for a planthopper to have. And the cool thing about these gears is that they’re only engaged when he’s planning to hop. It’s really quite fascinating to contemplate. Learn more about it by reading this article.
And this amazing design is left behind when the bug becomes an adult. Apparently adolescents can shed and regrow gears multiple times, but adults can’t, so if one of the teeth on their gears were to break… disaster. Nobody likes a hop-less planthopper.
So there you have it. Yet more evidence that nature is AWESOME, and that we humans need to be a lot more humble.
Enjoy my random musings? Then you’ll love my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5