Children

Happy feet

Grasshoppers have multifaceted feet.

Grasshoppers have multifaceted feet.

Most of us use our feet for walking, running and dancing. Here are some creatures that do more.

Grasshoppers “sing” by rubbing the spines on their hind legs against their wings, rather like a violinist drawing the bow against the strings.

Male crickets chirp by rubbing their wings together to woo their partners. The females hear these love songs with ears on their first pair of legs!

Female butterflies use their legs to taste plants. They will lay their eggs only on the plant that their caterpillars are likely to eat. Though voracious munchers, caterpillars are very fussy, with each species feeding on a specific plant.

Male spiders try winning the hearts of females by offering them gifts. They catch hapless insects and package them neatly by rolling them in their own silk, using their legs to do so!

When armies of ants come across hurdles such as small pools, they form a living bridge by holding each other’s legs and antennae, over which the rest of the ants march over.

Hungry seagulls perform a kind of tap dance with their feet to mimic the pattering of rainfall. The unwary earthworm underground surfaces from its burrow only to be eaten by the waiting bird.

Birds of prey use their powerful feet to hunt.

Birds of prey use their powerful feet to hunt.

Raptors or birds of prey like eagles, hawks and falcons use their feet as tools for hunting. With three toes pointing forwards and one behind, they are able to not only grip their prey but even kill it while on the wing.

The powerful long legs of an ostrich, which end in two-toed feet, serve as a formidable weapon. One kick can kill even a lion.

Monkeys not only have prehensile tails, but toes as well. This means that they can curve their toes, grip things easily, and even swing by their feet. The orangutans, another species of primates, have an opposable big toe, just like a thumb. So, while they swing with their arms, they feast with their feet.

Clouded Leopard

Clouded Leopard

Now here is something really bizarre. The secretive clouded leopards that spend much in tree canopies can turn their ankles a full 180° to help break their descent while climbing down trees, head first.


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 13, 2022 2:48:56 am | https://www.thehindu.com/children/happy-feet/article65266853.ece