Jumping Cockroach Discovered in South Africa Becomes YouTube Hit (VIDEO)

A jumping cockroach called Saltoblattella montistabularis has been discovered in South Africa.

According to African online news site Batabgastoday.com, the jumping cockroach was discovered at the University of Cape Town by zoologist Dr. Mike Picker. He and several of his colleagues were hunting for fly larvae in the Table Mountain nature reserve at the time.

“I noticed these very strange jumping animals, which I initially thought might be a type of grasshopper. But knowing the insects quite well, we soon realized what a spectacular find we had,” Mike Picker told CBC Radio.

Picker also told the New York Times, “The knee of the hind legs of the cockroach contains the elastic protein resilin that probably restores the shape of the leg, which is bent during the forces of jumping.”

The cockroach, now being called the “leaproach,” reportedly jumps 20 inches, which is 50 times the length of its body. The leaproach differs from all the other existing cockroaches which have a scuttling locomotion. The cockroach’s ability to jump is possible because its legs seem to be specifically built for jumping.

The roach has sturdy antennae which help to stabilize the insect as it jumps, according to Batabgastoday.com. Picker added that the leaproach's jumps are made possible by a quick and synchronous extension of its hind legs which are twice the length of its other legs and make up 10 per cent of its body weight.

So far, the leaproach has only been found in a tiny patch of grassland in Cape Town, in South Africa’s Table Mountain National Park. Researchers believe the cockroach may have began leaping as the most sufficient way to move through its habitat of long grass stems.

See below for video of the leaproach in action: