The intersegmental membranes of a pregnant female locust helps her deposit her eggs about 8 centimeters underground due to stress-softening of the membrane.
"While a stretchy nuchal ligament can act as a shock absorber, a stretchy tendon would undo the shortening of the muscle that it attaches to a bone. The current record holder, the intersegmental membrane of the pregnant female locust, achieved its renown in an investigation by Vincent (1975); it's made of about 12 percent protein and 12 percent chitin, with the rest water, and it undergoes something called 'stress-softening.' Mother locust, a creature of dry habitats, stretches these membranes between her abdominal segments to get her eggs about 8 centimeters underground--deep enough so the desiccated eggs have a reliable source of water. The eggs are kept fairly dry before being expelled, presumably so the locust can hold a large number and still fly." (Vogel 2003:314)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Steven Vogel. 2003. Comparative Biomechanics: Life's Physical World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 580 p.
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