Today only comes around once every four years, so I hope that you are making the most of this leap day! To celebrate the leap year, we have sprung into action and hopped around the ARKive collection to find ARKive’s Top Ten Leapers!
California jumping gall wasp (Neuroterus saltatorius)
The California jumping gall wasp may look like an unpromising contender for the top ten leaping list, however these tiny galls will jump for three days – as shown in this video. The tiny wasp larvae inside the gall flip themselves, although exactly why is not known.
Lesser florican (Sypheotides indicus)
The male lesser florican can leap up to two metres into the air in order to attract females. Helped by an energetic flurry of wing beats, this species may repeat this seductive aerial routine up to 500 times a day!
Eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus)
Perhaps the most famous of leapers, we couldn’t possibly have left the kangaroo off this top ten list. The eastern grey kangaroo is able to travel at great speeds, using its powerful, enlarged hindquarters for leaping, aided by the long tail, which acts as a balance and rudder.
Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi)
Verreaux’s sifaka is aptly designed for leaping between tree trunks. When crossing open spaces, this species will descend to the ground and bound along on its hind legs with its arms held out rather like a graceful dancer!
Brown hare (Lepus europaeus)
During its famous boxing matches, the ‘mad March hare’ can leap to pretty impressive heights. Boxing bouts between hares occur between an unreceptive female and an overenthusiastic male during the mating season.
Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra)
It can be quite hazardous being a blackbuck, as they are preyed upon a number of species such as wolves and leopards. Luckily, this species has speed on its side and can leap extraordinarily high into the air on seeing a potential predator, before galloping away at up to 80 kilometres an hour.
Common tree frog (Hyla arborea)
The common tree frog has mastered the ability to eat fast food. It can make long leaps in order to catch fast flying insects, as demonstrated in this multiflash sequence image.
Common field grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus)
Ever tried to catch a grasshopper? It’s quite difficult! Grasshoppers, like this common field grasshopper, have a special muscle system in the hind legs which store energy like a catapult. When the grasshopper is disturbed it releases the energy allowing the grasshopper to jump long distances!
Himalayan jumping spider (Euophrys omnisuperstes)
As its name suggests, the Himalayan jumping spider lives high in the Himalayas, and with legs working like pistons it is able to jump up to 30 times its own body length.
Smoothtail devil ray (Mobula thurstoni)
Exceptionally graceful swimmers, rays appear to fly through the water on their large wings. Rays, like the smoothtail devil ray, are also able to leap entirely out of the water, possibly in a form of communication or play.
Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researcher