Attenborough & Cicada, Sittin' On A Tree...

I love the wonders of the natural world, even some of the really disgusting ones, but I'm not going to lie to you... I think cicadas are gross... they look like giant cockroaches with wings, and who wants that?

Still, when you start learning about cicadas, even they manage to impress, for the odd length and periodicity of their reproductive cycle is still something of a mystery to scientists.

And if you want to get your groove on, Sir David Attenborough is here to show you how to flirt with these horny bugs, but beware: they might start humping you :)


Here is what the late Stephen Jay Gould thought (in "Of bamboos, cicadas and the economy of Adam Smith") might be a good explanation for this curious 17-year cycle: it's all about prime numbers... they are not divisible by any other number:
Many potential predators have 2-5-year cycles. Such cycles are not set by the availability of cicadas (for they peak too often in years of nonemergence), but cicadas might be eagerly harvested when the cycles coincide. Consider a predator with a life-cycle of five years: if cicadas emerged every 15 years, each bloom would be hit by the predator. By cycling at a large prime number, cicadas minimize the number of coincidences (every 5 x 17, or 85 years, in this case). Thirteen- and 17-year cycles cannot be tracked by any smaller number.
I wonder if Ms. Attenborough is upset with her philandering bastard of a husband :)
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