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Nature outdoes engineers again: High-speed ‘mechanical gears’ discovered for the first time on the hind legs of a plant hopping insect

  • The baby Issus bug has curved cog-like strips of teeth on each hind leg
  • These cogs can interlock and rotate like mechanical gears to help it jump
  • This is the first time that mechanical gears similar have been found in nature

DailyMail:  Scientists have discovered that nature created mechanical gears long before man made cars and bikes – in the legs of a tiny jumping insect.

The baby Issus bug, a plant hopping garden dweller, has curved cog-like strips of teeth on each hind leg which interlock and rotate like mechanical gears to help it jump.

The discovery proves that gear mechanisms previously thought to be a solely man made invention were in fact first created by nature.

This shows a microscopic close up of a juvenile Issus's rear legs.

The baby Issus’ rear legs has curved cog-like strips of opposing teeth hat intermesh, rotating like mechanical gears

Scientists at Cambridge University made the discovery using a combination of body structure analysis and high-speed video.

‘We usually think of gears as something that we see in human designed machinery, but we’ve found that that is only because we didn’t look hard enough,’ said Zoologist and paper author Gregory Sutton.

‘These gears are not designed; they are evolved – representing high speed and precision machinery evolved for synchronization in the animal world.’

Issus

Each gear on the Issus¿ leg is around 400 micrometers long, and there are between ten and 12 teeth on each leg

Issus's rear legs

The gears on the opposing hind legs lock together like those in in car gear box to make sure the legs are completely synchronized when they move

Each gear tooth on the insect’s legs has a rounded corner at the point it connects with the other gears to stop teeth from shearing off when they clash, similar to gears on a bike.

The gears on the opposing hind legs lock together like those in in car gear box to make sure the legs are completely synchronized when they move.

This is critical for powerful jumps as even a tiny discrepancy in the timing between the legs would see, the little Issus spin out of control.

The legs always move within 30 microseconds of each other, with one microsecond equal to a millionth of a second.

The mechanical gears are only found in the juvenile insect, and are lost when the bug grows into its adult phase

‘This precise synchronization would be impossible to achieve through a nervous system, as neural impulses would take far too long for the extraordinarily tight coordination required,’ said lead author Professor Malcolm Burrows.

The legs always move within 30 microseconds of each other, with one microsecond equal to a millionth of a second

Issus‘By developing mechanical gears, the Issus can just send nerve signals to its muscles to produce roughly the same amount of force – then if one leg starts to propel the jump the gears will interlock, creating absolute synchronicity.

The mechanical gears are only found in the juvenile insect, and are lost when the bug grows into its adult phase

‘In Issus, the skeleton is used to solve a complex problem that the brain and nervous system can’t.

‘This emphasizes the importance of considering the properties of the skeleton in how movement is produced.’

The mechanical gears are only found in the juvenile insect, and are lost when the bug grows into its adult phase.

It is not yet known why this happens, but scientists think it could be because if one tooth on the gear breaks, the whole mechanism is damaged, and while juveniles can self-repair, any damage in adulthood is permanent.

Each gear on the Issus’ leg is around 400 micrometers long, and there are between ten and 12 teeth on each leg.

Unlike man-made gears, each gear tooth is asymmetrical and curved towards the point where the cogs interlock.

This is because man-made gears need a symmetric shape to work in both rotational directions, whereas the Issus gears are only powering one way to launch the animal forward.

While there are examples of cogs in the animal kingdom, such as on the shell of a turtle, gears with a functioning role have never been found until now.

The findings are reported in the latest issue of the journal of Science.

September 13, 2013 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal Related Education, animals, Just One More Pet, Wild Animals | , , , | 1 Comment

The Genius of Birds: Watch a Hummingbird’s Tongue in Action – Amazing… Especially for you Hummingbird Enthusiasts

Video: FLIGHT: The Genius of Birds – Hummingbird tongue

David  Klinghoffer/Nature News:  We recently got a hummingbird feeder for our back porch and my kids were delighted to see how quickly the local hummingbird population discovered it. I tried to explain to them what’s so amazing about the creature’s tongue.

In order to fuel its heart and wings that can flap up to 100 times-per-second, a hummingbird must eat several times an hour. This groundbreaking sequence from Flight: The Genius of Birds illustrates the system of mechanisms that enable a hummer to consume several times it body weight in nectar each day. The DVD & Blu-ray are available for purchase now – visit http://www.illustramedia.com for more information.

Watch this clip from the new Illustra documentary Flight: The Genius of Birds. Paul Nelson’s commentary is also very eloquent and interesting.

Marion/JOMP:  We have a hummingbird feeder and it is both fascinating and enjoyable to watch the little birds.  My father-in-law who suffers from Alzheimer’s gets a childish joy from watching them.

h/t to George King

August 24, 2013 Posted by | Animal and Pet Photos, animal behavior, Animal Related Education, animals, Just One More Pet, We Are All God's Creatures, Wild Animals | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sheep-eating plant to bloom for first time in 15 years

The national botanic garden in Wales has been cultivating a horrid, sheep-eating plant for 11 years, and now it’s finally about to bloom.

Newsmax/Cross-Posted at TrueHealthIsTrueWealth: It is not exactly Audrey II from the Broadway play "Little Shop of Horrors," but English horticulturalists say for the first time that a Chilean "sheep-eating" plant is ready to bloom in the Royal Horticultural Society garden greenhouse in Wisley, south of London.

The gardening charity told the BBC that very few specimens of the Puya chilensis were known to have flowered in the United Kingdom. Puya chilensis are known for using their sharp spines to snare and trap sheep and other small animals, which slowly starve to death.

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The animals then decay at the base of the plant, acting as fertilizer. The horticultural society officials told the BBC it opted for liquid fertilizer to feed its Puy chilensis in the greenhouse.

The National Botanic Garden of Wales waited 11 years for its plant to bloom, though clumps bloom every April in the open on Tresco in the Isles of Scilly.

"I’m really pleased that we’ve finally coaxed our Puya chilensis into flower,"  horticulturalist Cara Smith told the UK’s Metro. "We keep it well fed with liquid fertilizer as feeding it on its natural diet might prove a bit problematic."

Smith told Metro just to make sure the plant behaved, horticulturalists are raising it in a remote portion of the greenhouse so it can remain out of reach of children. The plant has bright, greeny-yellow flowers on tall spikes above the razor-sharp spines.

"It’s well worth a visit but parents coming along with small children don’t need to worry about the plant devouring their little ones," Smith said in a news release by the horticultural society.

The society said the "blossoms are gigantic with each individual bloom measuring around five centimeters across and containing enough nectar for a person to drink. The plant’s taste for sheep has also proved its undoing in its native habitat where shepherds will go in search of the plants and set fire to them to protect their flocks."

Puy chiliensis can be commonly found in the arid coastal mountain region of central and north Chile, according to The Lost World Nursery. The plants are drought tolerant and can grow as tall as 10 feet, according the Lost World Nursery.

June 22, 2013 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Just One More Pet, Unusual Stories, Wild Animals | , , , , | 1 Comment

Peacock in full flight

Have you ever seen a Peacock in full flight?

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This is a rare opportunity for this.  We never imagined that it could be so

Magnificent – like a phoenix in a fairy tale!  It is not every day we can see such beauty!!!

h/t to Sovereignty in Colorado

March 10, 2013 Posted by | animal behavior, animals, Just One More Pet, We Are All God's Creatures, Wild Animals | , , , , | 2 Comments

Animal Moms

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h/t to Liana Smith

January 30, 2013 Posted by | Animal and Pet Photos, animal behavior, animals, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Stop Animal Cruelty, We Are All God's Creatures, Wild Animals | , , , , | 1 Comment

Alaska… One in a Billion Shot…

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HOLY …  SH_T !!!

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ALASKA

…One In A Billion Shot…

The photo was taken at the entrance to Katlian Bay, at the end of the road, just around the corner from the ferry terminal, in Sitka, Alaska.

The whale is coming up to scoop up a mouthful of herring (the small fish seen at the surface all around the kayak.)

The kayaker is a local Sitka Dentist. All he could think of at that moment in time was:

"Paddle fast–and I do mean paddle really fast…!"

In case you didn’t realize it…, the whale’s mouth is fully open with the bottom half completely under his Kayak…! If the whale had closed his mouth before he had furiously paddled away – he might have been LUNCH…!!!

As the story goes, he apparently didn’t sustain any injuries from the terrifying experience, except that is…, a memory of what happened…, that I don’t think will EVER-EVER go away!!!

h/t to Gary dRat

September 19, 2012 Posted by | Animal and Pet Photos, animal behavior, animals, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, We Are All God's Creatures, Wild Animals | , , , , | Leave a comment