The Scope, the Official STEMscopes Blog

Nature the Engineer

Posted by Science Explored on October 14, 2013

Nature turns out to be as prodigious an engineer as human beings.  The University of Cambridge recently discovered that a European plant-hopping insect called the Issus coleaptratus possesses natural, biological gears not unlike those found in bicycles, transmissions, and automobile differentials.  Adding to the surprise of this discovery, the Issus has been living comfortably in European gardens for decades.  Only ornamental “gears” have been spotted in nature prior to this discovery; those of the Issus, however, play an essential role in the insect’s survival.


No, this isn't something out of horror movie.  These are the gears - a remarkable feat of "organic engineering" - of a Issus coleaptratus nymph (photo courtesy of The University of Cambridge).

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Topics: Science Explored, Issus, engineering, adaptations

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