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The beetle's acrobatic movements are like "spring"

The beetle’s acrobatic movements are like “spring”

Insects use many methods of locomotion, some of them walk on six legs, and some of them have developed the ability to maintain balance on three legs, while some insects prefer to fly, and others move by a strange means of jumping.

and according study Published in the journal PLOS ONE, a team of researchers has discovered an entirely new hopping behavior used by insect larvae that had never been observed before, and one that may be used by another group of insects.

In this behavior, the larvae of the Coleoptera bark beetle – a type of beetle spread all over the world – bend their bodies in fractions of a second, then stretch the body to gain force that enables it to leap forward at a speed of 15 centimeters per second to travel a vast distance of $ An average of 11.5 millimeters during a single jump, bearing in mind that the average body length of this insect is no more than 1.9 millimeters.

It can be simplified by imagining what the American athletics legend Michael Powell did in 1991; He set a record for the long jump with a distance of 8.95 metres. Powell is 1.88 meters long, which means that he managed to make a jump equal to 4.7 times his height, and this caterpillar beat that record by jumping more than six times its length.

Beetles flex their bodies and briefly store energy in order to jump CREDIT: MATT BERTONE, NC STATE UNIVERSITY

This behavior is very strange, says Adrian Smith, head of the Laboratory of Evolutionary Biology and Behavior at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and co-author of the study. Larvae are often soft-bodied and immobile, and adapted to feeding and growing, while adults often have the ability to move around to find food or mate, but this generally sedentary lifestyle, which many caterpillars display, makes them very attractive targets. For predators and parasites.

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“Smith” added in statements to “Al-Alam”: Therefore, insects have developed a number of solutions to defend the larvae, such as placing them in hidden places, guarding them by one of the parents, or even using repelling chemicals to drive away predators, and the terrestrial larvae are usually full-bodied. And slow-moving, with short legs or no legs at all, which means no movement is required, and what this beetle does is totally unorthodox; The larvae of this type of beetle live under the bark of dead trees, feeding mostly on fungi that are abundant in their environment, so we don’t know exactly why they make those leaps.

And he continues: These larvae compress their body and throw themselves into the air for a large distance in a way that resembles a spring, and as far as we know there is no other animal that jumps in the acrobatic way that these larvae jump, perhaps these larvae use the method of acrobatic jumping to escape from predators, especially since they live in an environment that is not Very stable, and potentially vulnerable to predators, so the ability to move itself quickly and find lair may be beneficial.

But what exactly is the jump mechanism? Instead of using legs to jump, these beetles flex their bodies and store energy for a brief period in order to jump. When their legs lose control of the ground, the stored energy is released and the beetles bend their head and chest down, causing them to efficiently toss their body upwards. In the air the larva curls up and rolls away from its original location.

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This study began when lead author Matt Burton found beetle larvae in a dead tree outside his university office; The researcher noticed that these caterpillars “jump” in an unusual way, so he called Adrian Smith, and together they began photographing the caterpillars with high-speed cameras to describe what they were doing.

“The only assumption we had, which we tested in that study, was that this beetle probably uses a spring-like system,” Smith says. We worked on this research on and off for several years, especially since these beetle larvae are rarely found, so when we found them we recorded them intensively for a few weeks and then started processing the data and this process took several years, and this study is an example of an animal that developed a strong leap “in a way the spring” without modifying much of its anatomy.

Smith adds: “This leap is unique, and no other animal does, which shows that there is still a lot to notice and learn about in the insect world. Insects do extraordinary things that give us new ideas about how living systems adapt to their environments.” Most of them, like this beetle, are waiting to be discovered and described in a nature that is still marvelous.