Fleas’ ‘Feet’ Unleash That Spectacular Leap
When fleas jump, it is no ordinary leap. The insects can shoot as high as 38 times their body length, about three inches. And the acceleration is so intense that fleas have to withstand 100 Gs, or 100 times the force of gravity. “You and I pass out if we experience five Gs,” said Malcolm Burrows, an expert on insect jumping at the University of Cambridge.
Dr. Burrows and his Cambridge colleague Gregory Sutton obtained the fleas from Tiggywinkles to try to answer a question that had vexed naturalists for centuries: how fleas manage their spectacular jumps. They report that the insects turn themselves into catapults, storing up energy that they release as they push off the ground with what passes, in fleas, for feet.
- It takes about a thousandth of a second for a flea to hurl itself into the air.
- Fleas generate a hundred times more power than their muscles can actually provide.
Exerpts from NY Times.com
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