Walking on the Ceiling

Insects walking on top and bottom of a twig Ants, bees, and their relatives do some amazing things. One of these things is to walk across a ceiling upside down, but another is clinging to slippery leaves--even ice-covered ones--as the wind rocks and shakes the leaf violently. I recently saw a film clip showing these insects doing this in slow motion. Not only is the process amazing, but the complex mechanical design is also incredible.

These insects have suction pads on their feet. On both sides of the suction pads are claws which can be retracted. The suction pads are inflated when the claws are retracted, allowing the insect to cling to the surface. When the insect deflates the pad, the foot detaches from the surface with the claws extended. If the insect is on a rough surface when suction is not required, the claws stay extended and the pads stay folded.

Dr. Bert Hšlldobler, the director of the team studying the locomotion of these insects says, "This is a striking example of a peripheral structure that features complex mechanical design, but works with relatively simple, central control."

Ant walking on a leaf The question we would raise is how such "complex mechanical design" comes about. I frequently hear entomologists describe these patterns in insects as blueprints that allow the creatures to function in unique ways. They are referring, of course, to genetic blueprints which allow all members of the species to have the same specialized equipment. We would suggest that the blueprint is carefully drawn and designed by a Designer that created life forms to fit unique environments in complex and marvelous ways. "Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its way and be wise" (Proverbs 6:6).

--Reference: National Wildlife, December/January 2002, page 10.

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