Why Leafhoppers Don’t ‘Break a Leg’

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Why leafhoppers don’t ‘break a leg’, or tear leaves, according to ScienceNOW 13 March 2013 and Journal of Experimental Biology doi: 10.1242/jeb.085944. Jumping insects need to generate strong forces in their legs in order to overcome gravity, but the forces involved in rapid jumps could break their legs, or damage the leaf beneath them, or both. To avoid such disasters the insects need to maintain a constant acceleration, but muscles, being elastic, do not produce constant forces. A team of researchers in Italy used high speed photography to record leafhoppers taking off, and then analysed the movements of the insects’ body and legs. They found that when energy was released from the contracted muscles in the insect’s thorax it rotated the femur, (the leg segment closest to the body), and then transmitted the movement to the tibia, (the next leg segment), in a way that the variable muscular force was converted to a constant force. According to ScienceNOW, “This precision movement allows the insects to accelerate at a near constant rate of 152 metres per second squared while keeping their fragile limbs intact”.

Editorial Comment: Here is another example of a function that could not evolve by naturalistic chance random evolution. It has to work first time, as there is no second chance to get it right if the insect breaks its legs. Insects with broken legs are not going to win in the struggle for existence. To explain how a non-hopping insect became a hopping insect by evolving, you have to explain how genes for building correctly shaped legs, along with the brain circuits that control the movement, were put in place by an insect that was trying to jump while breaking its legs. Daahhh! It is far more reasonable to believe such insects were created with the right legs and the right brains all together, right from the beginning. Therefore, we predict that sooner or later fossil hoppers should be found with all parts present from the start of fossilisation processes on this planet (Noah’s time that is). (Ref. biomechanics, insects, arthropods)

Evidence News 3 July 2013

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