Why do grasshoppers jump?
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Why do grasshoppers jump?

Grasshopper

When grasshoppers first evolved from earlier insects, about 300 million years ago, they lived in forests of huge ferns, and the main danger to grasshoppers came from frogs. Like frogs, grasshoppers evolved to be good jumpers.They ate mainly ferns.

Grasshoppers jump by pushing with the big muscles in their big back legs against the ground. They have claws on their feet so their feet don't slip when they jump.

But grasshoppers have had to evolve in many different ways over the years to keep up with changes in their environment. About 200 million years ago, the climate got a lot more dry and hot. Grasshoppers evolved a thin waxy coat over their hard shells to keep from losing too much water to evaporation.

And when birds and flowering plants and grasses evolved, about 100 million years ago, grasshoppers changed to meet the new situation. Now grasshoppers mainly eat grass, instead of ferns, and their biggest enemies are birds, instead of frogs.


Bibliography and further reading:

Arthropods
Biology
Chemistry
Math
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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