If you’re the kind to jump up on top of a chair and screech at the sight of a cockroach, we’re here to tell you that chairs are no longer safe refuge. This South African cockroach can jump up to 48 times its body length in a single leap. So while it may not be able to angle that slightly upward and start from a distance so it can catch you up on that chair, it can probably sneak attack you from a significant distance away.
Around 4,000 species of cockroach are known, but this leaproach is the only one that doesn’t scuttle, but rather, leaps as its default form of locomotion. Mike Picker and Jonathan Colville discovered the leaproach back in 2006, and it was formally accepted into the taxonomic world in 2010, known as Saltoblattella montistabularis.
The leaproach uses its legs similar to the way grasshoppers use theirs, but the grasshopper can only propel around 20 times its body length, less than half the multiplier the leaproach boasts.
Using a high-speed camera, researchers noticed that the leaproach’s knees are what lends power to the leap: Within the knee are bits of elastomeric protein, called resilin, which store energy when the legs bend, then uses all of that energy to jump when the leaproach extends its legs. Interestingly, the leaproach doesn’t have any wings to stabilize its jump, so it simply uses its limbs, which is how a clumsy person does it.
So, the two things to learn from this are: There are cockroaches that can leap 50 times the length of their body when they’re coming to attack you, and clumsy people are just like cockroaches.
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