More Olympus Bioscapes


Tochanters of Green coneheaded planthopper
Photo: Igor Siwanowicz

Ninth place in the 2014 OlympusBioscapes contest was won by Dr Igor Siwanowicz. This sharp image of a compelling complex structure has pleasing colors. What is it?

The image shows the trochanters of an immature green coneheaded planthopper, Acanalonia conica as viewed with a confocal microscope. My previous posts discussed structural coupling of opposite wings in flies. The green coneheaded planthopper uses this structure to couple movement of its jumping legs. The planthopper has a catch mechanism that allows force to be loaded onto the leg joint by slow muscle contractions.  The force on the joint is released suddenly to move the jumping leg with both force and power. In the planthopper, the cog-like gears coordinate the movement of the jumping legs on opposite sides of the body.  The cogs ensure that the force  on both jumping leg joints is released simultaneously so the legs move in unison. The green coneheaded planthopper is the first documented use of gear structures in nature.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Art, behavior, by jjneal, Taxonomy. Bookmark the permalink.

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