Trap-Jaw Claw

The local vigilante known as “Bugman” teams up with a professor of entomology and biological engineering to create a dynamic duo stopping crime in its tracks with insect inspired gadgets. The following is a mission briefing as told by the professor to Bugman. Be warned, the professor is obsessed with insect idioms and puns.

Dear Bugman,

I hope your flight to Manaus Airport was uneventful. There is no way they would let you carry this ‘bad boy’ onto the flight so I hope it gets to you in one piece. Inside this care package you will find the highly ‘ant-icipated’ gadget: the “trap-jaw claw”. This gadget was inspired by some of the earliest Amazon Rainforest colonizers, the trap-jaw ants (Odontomachus bauri), which will help you on your mission. Oh, and since you ‘wouldn’t stop bugging‘ me about packing you snacks for your future missions, I have also included some mango-habanero flavored dried crickets. They are delicious and packed with protein! Entomophagy is all the rage these days, trust me! I won’t bore you with the details of the mission again, but just in case you were too busy counting ants on an anthill during the mission briefing, here’s a rundown of the mission to catch the illegal logging group in the Amazon Rainforest that have been evading officials for months:

  • Special sensors have been hidden on trees throughout the forest which are meant to alert you of illegal logging activity happening nearby. These ‘f-ant-cy‘ gadgets, made from recycled cell phones, can detect specific vibrations and sound waves in the rainforest that are identical to the vibrations and sound waves of logging equipment. This is similar to how our ant friends use pheromones (chemical signals) to tell when an invader is near their colonies. Messages of “intruder alert” or “sister is home” can be interpreted by ants based on very specific and unique chemical signatures, just like our tree devices can tell of loggers nearby with a specific and unique sound wave signature.
  • When you receive an alert of the illegal loggers’ ‘ant-ics’ from our tree gadgets, grab your trap-jaw claw and make your way to the site.
  • These loggers are known to be quite ‘defi-ant’ and will avoid detection by stealthily scurrying up the trees like arboreal ants. That’s where this fancy gadget comes into play. The trap-jaw claw can extend upward into the trees and grasp onto any object, whether tree branch or logger, at lightning fast speeds. Use it wisely to catch fleeing loggers!
  • Should the ‘combat-ant’ loggers approach you head on, the claw can also spray a burning chemical cocktail meant to immobilize your attackers. Ouch, that’ll leave a ‘perman-ant’ scar for sure! This tactic is also employed and inspired by our friends, the Trap-jaw Ants.
  • In case you need a quick getaway, the claw can be snapped open against a nearby surface to launch you quickly in any direction. This will not have the same dramatic effect as it does with the ants who can launch themselves 3.3 inches into the air by snapping their jaws against the ground (3.3 inches into the air for an ant would be the same as a human jumping roughly 40 feet into the air!). The mandible-to-ant mass ratio is quite a bit different than the claw-to-human mass ratio, but it still should be ‘suffici-ant’ to launch you a few quick feet in one direction. Use with caution!
  • Now Bugman, I know you’ve got ants in your pants and want to get started with the mission right away, but please take a minute to read through the detailed picture directions for how to use your trap-jaw claw below. Good luck!
  1. Place dominant hand inside the trap-jaw claw sleeve. Once inside, firmly grasp the stock inside the sleeve.
  2. Release the trigger directly above your index finger to shoot the trap-jaw claw forward. Once the claw closes in on its target, the carbon fiber slackline connected to the claw will stop, stiffen, and form a taut chain.
  3. Anytime the sensory hairs on the inside of the claw hooks (fashioned after Trap-jaw ant mandibles) come into physical contact with another object, they will cause the claw hooks to slam shut at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. This force is meant to stop an object dead in its tracks and keep you securely fastened to it.
  4. Release the trigger directly above your little finger to spray a paralyzing mix of chemicals at your target. CAUTION: The spray feature of your trap-jaw claw will not function if the carbon fiber slackline is extended.
  5. To extend the lifetime of your trap-jaw claw, please store with the claws (mandibles) extended in ‘open’ position.

Thanks for reading my latest installment of the “Insecti-gadgets” blog series! I hope you enjoyed it. My purpose in writing this blog series is to highlight some amazing insect adaptations with some incredible biological engineering potential for human use. The gadgets I write about are fictional, though a lot of the adaptations are being researched with future implications for bioengineering. The ‘cell phone tree sensors’ are an actual gadget in use today to detect illegal loggers! Please let me know how you liked this read! Also, if you have any insect adaptation suggestions, please let me know! See the links below to learn more about the adaptations you read about in this post.

Cell Phone Logging Detectors

More Info on Trap-Jaw Ants

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