The Indian ant Harpegnathos saltator may be unique among insects in using its jumping capacity not only as an escape mechanism, but also as a normal means of locomotion, & for catching its prey in flight. High-speed cinematography used to analyse the various phases of the jump suggests that Harpegnathos employs a novel jumping mechanism to mediate these behaviors: namely the synchronous activation of its middle & hindlegs. Electrophysiological recordings from muscles or nerves in pairs of middle & hindlegs show remarkably synchronous activity during fictive jumping, supporting the synchronous activation hypothesis. Harpegnathos is not the only ant to jump, & a cladistic analysis suggests that jumping behaviour evolved independently 3 times during ant evolutionary history.
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