Meet Issus coleoptratus. If you’re not that into bugs, he’s probably a little gross. But what’s cool about him is that he has the only “mechanical gears” found in nature.
Malcolm Burrows and Gregory Sutton of the University of Cambridge made the discovery after studying juveniles from the species, and believe that ‘lil Issus is one of a kind. His claim to fame are his hind legs, the top of which are toothed and appear to act as gears, not unlike a clock.
Published in the journal Science, the report shows that the European/North African insects rotate their gear legs at the exact same time, which allows them to jump straight forward at speeds of 8.7 MPH.
“In Issus, the skeleton is used to solve a complex problem that the brain and nervous system can’t,” Burrows explained in a press statement. “This emphasizes the importance of considering the properties of the skeleton in how movement is produced.”
“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,” adds Sutton. “These gears are not designed; they are evolved – representing high speed and precision machinery evolved for synchronization in the animal world.”
Issus loses the “mechanical gears” in adulthood. Though the reason for this is unknown, the study’s authors say that if just one tooth in the gear breaks, the effectiveness of the system is compromised.
Watch Issus do his thing: