Planthoppers Have Biological Gears On Their Legs

Announcement: the Curiosity Podcast is finally here! Subscribe on iTunes here, Google Play Music here and add the RSS feed to your favorite podcast player. If you love it please consider leaving us a review.

Planthoppers' gears are located on the top segments of their hind legs, and have between 10 and 12 teeth. By locking the legs together, the gears ensure that the insect's jumping movements are synchronized, and that it doesn't veer off to the left or right. This synchronization is very exact—the legs move within 30 microseconds of each other.

Share the knowledge!

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Planthoppers use the gears in their hind legs to synchronize their rapid jumping movements. 00:16

  2. Planthoppers take off at about 5 m/s (12 mph) when they jump. 00:35

  3. Scientists at Cambridge University were able to study the gears in planthopper legs because the grandson of one researcher found the bugs in his garden. 01:04