Video Mantises leap with carefully controlled spin

first_imgThey may not have circuses devoted to them like fleas, but immature praying mantises are skilled acrobats. They have no wings yet, so they often must leap to a target, such as a branch. These jumps would send most insects into a wild spin, but for the young mantises, it’s a highly controlled maneuver that lines them up precisely on target. When a mantis jumps, it pushes off with its back legs, setting up a rotation that could send the insect spinning head over heels. By analyzing slow-motion video of hundreds of mantis jumps, like the one shown above, researchers discovered that in midair, mantises rotate their legs and abdomens. Thanks to conservation of angular momentum, this counters the spin imparted by the jump just enough to allow the mantis to safely hit its target.  The researchers confirmed this by supergluing mantises’ abdomen segments together and watching them jump. Without the full ability to adjust their rotation, the insects couldn’t stay in control, resulting in a mantis face plant, they report online today in Current Biology.(Video credit: Burrows et al./Current Biology 2015)last_img

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