Diabolical Ironclad Beetle Survives Being Run Over by Car

Diabolical Ironclad Beetle Survives Being Run Over by Car

It can survive being run over by a auto, pecked by predators and crushed underfoot.

The beetle has one of the toughest exoskeletons of any known insect.

While the average beetle can withstand a maximum pressure of 68 newtons, the diabolical ironclad beetle could reach up to 149 newtons, equal to 39,000 times its body weight.

While many beetles are rounded on top, the diabolical ironclad is flat and low to the ground, University of California, Irvine, materials scientist David Kisailus tells Science News' Maria Temming. "That's its adaptation: It can't fly away, so it just stays put and lets its specially designed armor take the abuse until the predator gives up".

When attacked, Kisailus revealed the exoskeleton won't instantly break down, instead the tough exterior deteriorates over time.

"When you break a puzzle piece, you expect it to separate at the neck, the thinnest part", Kisailus continues.

"We were impressed. Mainly because this beetle does not contain any mineral - only organic components, "said Prof". Second, the suture and blades divide into layers so they can deal with deformations more gracefully.

Next, the researchers performed compression tests to see just how much force these beetles can withstand. While most beetles only live for a few weeks, a diabolical ironclad can live for seven or eight years, in part because it outer shell is so peck-, crunch- and squash-proof.

The researchers discovered ellipsoidal beam-like structures that surround the beetle's exoskeleton and connect with tiny interlocking blades that form joints between the two segments of the beetle's exoskeletal fore wings, exposing the beetle to extreme compression.

Facts about the diabolical ironclad beetle.

The outside surfaces of the blades also possess rodlike-elements called microtrichia, which may create friction and provide resistance to slips.

Experts wanted to understand why, in the hope of recreating such strength in building materials. This helps the shell avoid catastrophic failure.

To further substantiate their experimental observations, Rivera and co-authors Maryam Hosseini and David Restrepo - both from Pablo Zavattieri's lab at Purdue University - employed 3D printing techniques to create their own structures of the same design. "That's what nature has enabled the diabolical ironclad beetle to do", Zavattieri concludes.

His team, including UC Riverside undergraduate Drago Vasile, mimicked the elliptical, interlocking pieces of the diabolical ironclad beetle's exoskeleton with carbon fiber-reinforced plastics.

A serious problem in engineering is combining the materials of different compositions, for example, combining aluminum and steel into fields such as aerospace.

The project - which received support from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the U.S. Army Research Office, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology's Institute of Global Innovation Research - also included researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

"Yeah, it's still alive", University of California, Riverside materials scientist Jesus Rivera, the first author on the paper, said in the video reviewed by the New York Times after one pass by the auto. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. Another plus point, according to the researchers, is the higher protein content of the wings compared to other beetle species.

Related Articles