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grasshopper sitting on a leaf

Evolution of grasshoppers: Grasshopper sitting on a leaf

Why do grasshoppers jump?

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.

What are ferns?
Insects and spiders
When did frogs evolve?
The Carboniferous period
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How do grasshoppers jump?

A frog sitting half in the water

A frog sitting half in the water

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.

How do muscles work?

Evolution of grasshoppers

But grasshoppers have had to evolve in many different ways over the years to keep up with changes in their environment.

The Triassic period
Plate tectonics
Why does it rain?

About 200 million years ago, during the Triassic period, the climate got a lot more dry and hot. All the land was gathered together in one giant continent, so the middle of that continent didn’t get much rain. Grasshoppers evolved a thin waxy coat over their hard shells to keep from losing too much water to evaporation.

Grasshoppers, birds, and grass

A robin sits on a branch

A robin sits on a branch

And when birds and flowering plants and grasses evolved, about 100 million years ago, grasshoppers changed to meet the new situation. The evolution of grasshoppers kept them from becoming extinct in the new environment

When did birds evolve?
How about grass?
The Cretaceous period

Now grasshoppers mainly eat grass, instead of ferns, and their biggest enemies are birds, instead of frogs.

Did you find out what you wanted to know about the evolution of grasshoppers? Let us know in the comments!

Arthropod (including grasshoppers)
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Bibliography and further reading about the evolution of grasshoppers:

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