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Hind legs amplify power: locusts


Green Milkweek Locust / Martin Heiga.. / LicenseCC-by-nc-nd - Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives

The hind legs of the locust amplify jumping power via energy stored in muscle attachment sites.

"And that's where energy storage comes in. Down to the size of a trout or a squid tentacle, unaided muscle can do a decent job with nothing more than ordinary leverage. Below that, muscle needs help; in practice, energy is put in slowly and stored elastically. Some kind of trigger then releases it at a higher rate. Work and energy may be conserved, but power gets amplified... A locust or grasshopper jumping with its hindlegs stores up work in chitinous apodemes and gets a tenfold power amplification (Bennet-Clark 1975)... Each of these creatures has some kind of a mechanical catch to prevent premature extension while the work is being put in; the specific arrangements, though, are different for each case." (Vogel 2003:476)
About the inspiring organism

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Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Protein-based elastomeric materials and nanosprings, highly efficient actuators.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Engineering, nanotechnolgy, MEMS

Vogel S. 2003. Comparative Biomechanics: Life's Physical World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 580 p.
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Bennet-Clark, HC. 1975. The energetics of the jump of the locust Schistocerca gregaria. Journal of Experimental Biology. 63: 53-83.
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