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News Link • Biology, Botany and Zoology

Insect uses gears to enable 200 g hops

•, By Brian Dodson
 Engineers and scientists have often turned to biomimetics, the imitation of nature's solutions, in their attempts to manipulate and control the Universe. Armor is inspired by scales and shells, Velcro by the burrs of plant seeds, and surgical glue by barnacles. In reverse, however, there are mechanisms invented by humans that received little if any sampling during the evolutionary process. For example, the only close biological analogs of the wheel and axle are the flagella of individual cells, which are driven by a rotary molecular motor.

The evolutionary fitness of a leaf-hopper to some extent depends on how successful it is at accessing a food source while expending as little energy as possible in the attempt. In accord with this principle, leaf-hoppers do not simply jump toward a bush, but rather select a target that provides the best sensory evidence of being a tasty, yet safe, dinner.

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