Dec. 4 - The tiny pygmy mole cricket, native to South Africa, has been revealed to be a spring-loaded, water-leaping wonder bug, capable of jumping five times its body length off the surface of water. The discovery was made by Cambridge University zoology professor Malcom Burrows who, with engineer colleague, Dr Gregory Sutton, filmed the amazing creature in action. Rob Muir has more.
The pygmy mole cricket, barely larger than a grain of rice, can leap across the water using the surface as a platform, unlike any other insect. The creatures powerful back legs are equipped with paddles which, when rapidly extended, allow the cricket to propel a ball of water downwards which launches it into the air. Researchers say the crickets' unique anatomy could one day be applied to the the design of small aquatic robots...although for the insect itself it's far more useful as a means to escape the attention of hungry predators below.