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.

Find more on Smithsonian

Enjoying this story? Show it to us!


Share your thoughts and join the technology debate!


  • Mel

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

    Posted on

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

    Posted on

More like this