If you thought walking on water was a big deal try jumping off it. A researcher has discovered pygmy mole crickets (Xya capensis) launching themselves from the top of a pond in South Africa. After taking them into the laboratory for a closer look, he and a colleague discovered the 5.5-milimeter-long insect's secret weapons: each of its powerful hind legs is equipped with seven paddle-like appendages and four prongs. As the cricket falls into the water, its hind legs kick out and penetrate the drink. That unfolds its paddles and prongs, which push so much liquid downward that the wet insect is propelled up from the water like a missile, achieving heights 18 times its body length. On land, the insect makes stupendous but often ill-directed jumps that often land it in the wet, so water-based leaps come in handy—no swimsuit necessary.
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