You can't sting this'iron' beetle. Now scientists know why

Pablo Tucker
October 25, 2020

The diabolical ironclad beetle is one tough critter, as its name might suggest. Sometimes, birds, lizards and rodents attempt to make a meal of it, but rarely succeed.

Getting run over by a auto only exerted about two-thirds of that force on the beetle's back, according to a statement. The insect has two shield-like "elitrons" - used in flying beetles to deploy wings - they meet in a line, called a soot, which runs along the length of its abdomen.

Principal investigator on the project, Professor David Kisailus said, the ironclad was "built more like a little tank".

"It can't fly away, so it just stays put and lets its specially designed armor take the abuse until the predator gives up".

Sturgeon beetle (Phloeodes Devil) It is about 0.6 to 1 inch (15 to 25 mm) long and is found in forest habitats in western North America and lives under tree bark.

There are many species of beetles around the world, but one has fascinated researchers thanks to the presence of an unusual trait.

The diabolical ironclad beetle can withstand forces up to 39,000 times its body weight. A 200-pound man would have to endure the crushing weight of 7.8 million pounds to equal this feat.

Using a high-resolution microscope and various spectroscopic methods, the researchers working with Kisailus coaxed the secret of the stability of the chitin armor. To compensate for its inability to flee from harm through flight, it instead evolved its elytra (or its forewings) to become composed of a highly resistant material.

Researchers learned the exoskeleton found on a diabolical ironclad beetle contains around 10% more protein by weight compared to the average beetle.

A study published on Wednesday in the journal Nature found that the beetle's exoskeleton has made the insect indestructible.

First, the interconnecting blades lock to prevent themselves from pulling out of the suture like puzzle pieces.

When the researchers 3D printed the sample to test the strength of the puzzle connection, they found that the five-bladed suture was the stiffest and could withstand the heaviest loads.

"We were impressed. Mainly because this beetle does not contain any mineral - only organic components, "said Prof". This helps the shell avoid catastrophic failure.

"This work shows that we may be able to shift from using strong, brittle materials to ones that can be both strong and tough by dissipating energy as they break". By using the beetles' blades as an inspiration, for example, scientists could create tougher joining materials that won't fracture apart unpredictably, Chen said. The Purdue team's models showed that not only does the geometry enable a stronger interlock, but the lamination provides a more reliable interface.

In the structure of the beetle's shell, nature offers an "interesting and elegant" alternative, Zavattieri said. His lab has been making advanced, fiber-reinforced composite materials based on these characteristics, and he envisions the development of novel ways to fuse aircraft segments together without the use of traditional rivets and fasteners, which each represent a stress point in the structure.

Overall, the study revealed evolution is responsible for the resilience of the diabolical ironclad beetle, which is native to the Southwestern U.S.

Scientists have discovered that the extreme rigidity of the diabolical ironclad beetle lies in its arsenal.

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