Rothschild Hypothesis Disproved!

On my long drive to work this morning I was surprised, to put it mildly, to hear a report on NPR about recent research on the jump of the flea. It concerns the results of this new paper: Biomechanics of jumping in the flea, Gregory P. Sutton and Malcolm Burrows, Journal of Experimental Biology 214, 836-847 (2011). I once met Miriam Rothschild (photo right) on one of her visits to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington. We discussed, among other things, my taxonomic and morphological researches into the fleas. She was quite a character and we got on very well. She proposed one mechanism by which fleas jump, and Henry Bennet-Clark another. It turns out that Bennet-Clark was right (though his rather dismissive comments about Rothschild's proposal at the end of the radio piece are quite unfair - her idea was not what he suggests). In any case it is not everyday that I come across items recalling my past life among the Siphonaptera. Do listen to the radio story - the bit about St. Tiggywinkles is worth hearing.

And there is this marvelous video:


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