It can survive being run over by a car, pecked by predators and crushed underfoot. Researchers have now revealed the secrets behind the near indestructibility of the demon beetle.
The beetle is found in wooded areas of the west coast of the United States, and is about 2 cm long. Like some other types of Beetle does not fly, The coverings of its wings, known as elytra, are not only hardened but fused together. The result is a fierce black shield that protects it from being crushed.
Researchers uncovered how tough this shield was, as they found that the Devil Armadillo can withstand much greater forces than other beetles that do not fly from similar environments, and survive around 39,000 times its body weight. This is comparable to the weight of a 90kg human weighing about 280 double-decker buses.
“We were moved. “Especially since this beetle does not contain any mineral – only organic components,” said Professor David Kesselos, a co-author of the study from the University of California, Irvine.
writing In Nature Magazine, Kisailus and colleagues on how they examined the beetle’s exoskeleton structure to understand what makes it so challenging.
Among their findings, they discovered that the beetle’s molten elytras were entangled. Whereas other beetles had elytra entangled, iron beetles had a greater number of interlocking sections, which resembled pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. In later experiments, the team found that this helped distribute tension and make the join more powerful.
Elytra has also been found to be layered and rich in protein – features that may enhance rigidity. Experiments have shown that when a weight is applied where the eletra joins, these layers loosen, release pressure while leaving the joint intact.
The elytra connects to the beetle’s shell on its underside, with stronger and stiffer connections where vital organs need protection, and looser connections elsewhere, the team says, acting like little springs, absorbing energy when forces compress the insect.
Further experiments showed that the features observed in the exoskeleton of the Iron Devil Beetle could be used to develop techniques for bonding materials. The incorporation of such features has been found to produce stronger connections than the fasteners commonly used in turbine engines.
“Since nature has been improving and conducting experiments for hundreds of millions of years, there are ample resources to provide inspiration for next-generation materials,” Kisailus said.
Max Barclay, a beetle curator at the Natural History Museum in London, who was not involved in the study, said that while many species of beetle could fly away from threats, the devil flying beetle had to harden to stay alive.
Barkley added that while most beetles only live for 1 term A matter of weeksSatanic iron can live for about seven or eight years. “These beetles do the beetle’s equivalent of living for 1,000 years, so they have to protect themselves from hazards in a way that short-lived creatures don’t,” he said.