Aquatic Escape Artists

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Springtails are tiny hexapods found living on the air-water interface. Like other creatures living at the interface, they sometimes need to make a quick escape. For the springtail, that means a high-flying leap, driven by their fork-shaped furcula. The springtail soars into the air, where it contorts its body and uses aerodynamic forces — along with a droplet it carries on its belly — to orient itself. For landing, it uses that droplet as a sticky anchor that helps it adhere to water (or ground) instead of bouncing. Nailing that landing sets it up to make another daring escape as quickly as needed. (Video and image credit: Deep Look; research credit: V. Ortega-Jimenez et al.)

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