The Insect with Natural Mechanical Gears

Alessia Andreotti
September 30th 2013

At first glance the picture might look like the delicate gear wheel from an old Swiss watch, but it is actually the first and only mechanical gear ever found in nature. It belongs to a three-millimeter-long hopping insect, known as Issus Coleoptratus. The gears are located at the top of the insects’ hind legs and include 10 to 12 tapered teeth, allowing the insect to jump forward.

“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. These gears are not designed; they are evolved, representing high speed and precision machinery evolved for synchronisation in the animal world”, explain a biologist from the University of Cambridge, who discovered the species.

Technology often recreates features found in nature. But in this case evolution has created something that mimics human technology.

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2 comments

Mel
Posted 10/10/2013 – 22:54

Amazing. This reminds me a little of the Mulefa in Pullman's The Amber Spyglass.

Robert Hollingworth
Posted 01/10/2013 – 10:10

"... evolution has created something that mimics human technology." Rubbish. What came first?

What is your view on the coronavirus?


Siri Beerends: I really embrace the idea that viruses can teach us a lesson in modesty. It is necessary that our position as the dominant species on the planet is being challenged. I also agree that it is a mistake to think that we are becoming Gods. But unfortunately, this is actually what is happening now. Corona doesn’t teach us to be modest, it teaches us how we can -as quickly as possible- go back to business as usual: saving our capitalistic economy.

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