You let out a scream
Reviled with disgust, you gather yourself for the KILL. You launch, it begins to run, it’s six little legs are in hyperdrive. You lash out and miss, it keeps running, it gets to the edge, you’re sure you’ve got it cornered now and …………….
Like Houdini – it’s gone.
But if you stop and listen very carefully, you can hear the cry……..
Moving and shaking cockroaches
A team from University of California have been carefully documenting how a variety of creatures move, hoping to pick up some tips on how to design agile robots, capable of moving with grace and speed.
While studying the moves of natures top escape artist, the cockroach, the team discovered THE MOVE, that has allowed cockroaches to disappear in the blink of an eye.
The move is so fast, the naked eye can’t take it in, but when the footage from a high-speed camera was slowed down, the gravity defying move became clear.
The roach flip
Reaching the end of solid ground should produce a spectacular free fall, but when the ground gives way beneath a cockroach, the back legs manage to deploy a specialized claw.
The claw acts like a grappling hook, catching the insect in midair, allowing it to swing like a pendulum, 180 degrees, so it lands upside down, directly underneath.
Tucked away – out of sight.
It’s like bungee jumping
The roach flip is a quite a feat, the getaway move subjects the cockroach’s body to 3-5 times the force of gravity.
Bungee jumpers experience similar forces when they hurl themselves off bridges.
The lost cockroaches
So next time you lose a cockroach you’re chasing. Don’t look left or right, the little guy is more than likely hiding right under your nose, just look underneath.Rapid Inversion: Running Animals and Robots Swing like a Pendulum under Ledges. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (6): e38003 Jean-Michel Mongeau, Brian McRae, Ardian Jusufi, Paul Birkmeyer, Aaron M. Hoover, Ronald Fearing, Robert J. Full.
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