Gears are a great man made tool. They keep your bike and car moving. They even keep the plate in your microwave turning. But what if I told you gears keep a tiny insect out of danger? Yes nature has created a biological gear in an insect called an Issus Nymph. So how do these gears work?
The Issus is a extremely small insect that leaps from leaf to leaf, to either find food or escape from predators. When it jumps, it can reach speeds up to 8 miles per hour. That is crazy to think seeing as this creature is under 1/10th of an inch long. If this insect continuously hopped for an hour it would have traveled its body length 50 million times! As you can imagine, this nymph jumps incredibly fast. When it leaps, both legs need to launch at the exact same time. If one leg jumped a li ttle bit earlier than the other, it would spiral out of control and crash. This is where the gears come in. These are built on the interior of each leg (think of your inner thigh). They lock together like gears do and keep both legs at the same level so they can leap at the same time. It is amazing that nature has produced genes that create these gear like structures to keep this little guy moving with ease. An electron micrograph is a machine that allows scientists to take photographs of extremely small phenomenon. Above is a photograph of the Issus nymph and an electron micrograph scan of its gears. Its incredible how closely they resemble man-made gears.