Thursday, September 12, 2013

Functioning mechanical gears seen in nature for the first time.

Wheels and gears aren't seen in nature. Until now.

The juvenile Issus - a plant-hopping insect found in gardens across Europe - has hind-leg joints with curved cog-like strips of opposing 'teeth' that intermesh, rotating like mechanical gears to synchronise the animal's legs when it launches into a jump.
The finding demonstrates that gear mechanisms previously thought to be solely man-made have an evolutionary precedent. Scientists say this is the "first observation of mechanical gearing in a biological structure".
Through a combination of anatomical analysis and high-speed video capture of normal Issus movements, scientists from the University of Cambridge have been able to reveal these functioning natural gears for the first time. The findings are reported in the latest issue of the journal Science.
The gears in the Issus hind-leg bear remarkable engineering resemblance to those found on every bicycle and inside every car gear-box.

There's a picture of the structure. It looks like two quarter circles side by side, with meshing gear teeth. Absolutely crazy.

The Phantom Gearhead

Update: I finally figured out what those gears remind me of.

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