The anatomy of the metathoracic leg is redescribed with particular reference to storage of energy in cuticular elements and the way in which the stored energy is used in jumping. The jump of adult male locusts requires an energy of 9 mJ and that of the female requires 11 mJ. The semilunar processes of each metafemur store 4 mJ at a stress of 15 N, and the extensor tibiae apodeme stores a further 3 mJ at the same stress. The total stored energy in both metathoracic legs is 14 mJ. The extensor tibiae muscle produces a maximum isometric force of over 15 N at 30 degrees C and, when loaded with the extensor apodeme and semilunar processes, attains this force in 0.3 sec with a strain of 0.8 mm. The peak power output is 36 mW or 0.45 W.g-1. The peak isometric force is attained when the tibia is fully flexed and the force falls as the tibia extends. The extensor tibiae muscle A band is 5.5 mum long and the peak force is over 0.75 N.m-2. The peak velocity of shortening is 7 mm.sec-1 or about 1.75 lengths/sec at 30 degrees C. The tensile strength of the extensor apodeme is 0.6 kN.mm-2 and Young's modulus is 19 kN.mm-2. The safety factor does not exceed 1.2 and the safety factor of the semilunar processes and tibial cuticle is little higher. The jump impulse lasts 25–30 msec. A velocity of 3.2 m.sec-1 is reached after a peak acceleration of 180 m.sec-2. The peak power output is 0.75 W at close to maximum velocity. Energy losses in rotating the femur and tibia are small and it is shown that the leg is able to extend at 7 times the normal rate with losses of about 20%. Most of the stored energy is converted to kinetic energy as the animal jumps. A model is based on the relaxation of a spring that has the properties of the elastic elements of the locust leg into a lever with the same kinematics as the locust leg produces a force-distance curve similar to that measured for locust jumps. The major part of the jump energy is stored before the jump.
- © 1975 by Company of Biologists