Using high-speed photography, researchers led by Víctor Ortega-Jiménez at the Georgia Institute of Technology have solved the mystery of how springtails jump away from danger and successfully land on their feet.
The team discovered that insect-like springtails use their furcula appendage, which is a bit like a tail, to orientate their bodies mid-air ready for landing. And the secret to their miraculous touchdown is a unique abdominal tube called the collophore. This helps the springtail stick to the water’s surface, preventing it from rebounding.
The researchers have now created a micro-robot that uses the springtail’s tricks to help it land consistently on its feet.
Journal reference:PNAS,DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2211283119