Non-Stick Insects That Can

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Non-stick insects that can according to articles in ScienceDaily 19 February 2014 and Journal of The Royal Society Interface, doi: 10.1098/rsif.2014.0034. Insects are well known for being able to walk upside down, right side up and do it just as well as on vertical surfaces. To achieve this they have adherent pads that stick to a surface. But when walking on a horizontal or gently sloping surface they don’t need to use sticky pads. In fact, if there is no danger of falling off, sticky pads are a hindrance because of the need to unstick with each step.

Scientists have noticed that many insects have two types of pads on their feet – toe pads near the ends of their legs, which are sticky, and heel pads, which are not sticky. David Labonte, of Cambridge University’s Department of Zoology, and colleagues have studied the way the heel pads work in stick insects (Carausius morosus). They discovered the heel pads generate large amounts of friction, allowing the insect to grip the surface without actually sticking to it.

Effective friction depends on contact area, i.e. how much of the two surfaces are in close contact. A lot of contact results in more grip. The researchers found the stick insect heel pads were able to increase the amount of surface contact with increasing pressure. The pads are covered in tiny cone shaped projections called acanthae. These have rounded ends so when more pressure is applied they flatten, like pressing on a ball, which increases the surface contact. The height of cones varies, so that with a small amount of pressure only a few acanthae are in contact with the surface, but as more pressure is applied, more cones make contact. Finally, if more pressure is applied, some of the acanthae bend so that more surface area makes contact.

David Labonte explained: “Just by arrangement and morphology, nature teaches us that good design means we can combine the properties of hard and soft materials, making elemental forces like friction go a very long way with just a small amount of pressure”.

ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: Drives you crazy doesn’t it? We all know making use of the properties of hard and soft materials is certainly good design, and we know that we use it for house design, etc. and we would be aggravated if anybody attributed our intelligent design to Mother Nature. It is not “nature” who deserves the credit for making, or for teaching us about stick insects which use hard and soft materials. We certainly can learn by observing the natural world, and studying how living things function, but to claim that nature made living things, worshipping a false god, is giving credit to the creation, rather than the Creator. (Ref. insects, arthropods, design)

Evidence News vol. 14, No. 3
19 March 2014
Creation Research Australia

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