Functioning 'mechanical gears' seen in nature for the first time
Gear mechanisms, previously thought to be entirely man-made, have been found in nature for the first time, functioning as the leg hinges of a plant-hopping insect found in gardens across Europe.
The Issus is the genus of plant hoppers where the cog-like joints were found.
The gears serve a powerful purpose.¬† The bugs jump at insane speeds and distances, producing somewhere between 500G to 700G of force and the gears guarantee a synchronization in back leg movement, something that a nervous system, alone, couldn’t coordinate.
“This precise synchronisation 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, from Cambridge’s Department of Zoology.
“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.
So, we thought we created the gear mechanism, but it seems that we actually discovered it.¬† What other inventions already exist in nature?