What Are Diabolical Ironclad Beetles? Scientist Discover Secret Behind ‘Crush-Resistant’ Bugs

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 22, 2020

"These observations could be applied in developing tough, impact- and crush-resistant materials for joining dissimilar materials", researchers say. David Kisailus, professor of materials science and engineering at Purdue University, led the new research.

The diabolical ironclad beetle (Phloeodes diabolicus) is found mainly in the United States and Mexico, where it lives under the bark of trees or beneath rocks. Since they can't fly, it makes sense that they've developed a strong shell that protects them from lizard bites or the pecking of birds.

A study published on Wednesday in the journal Nature found that the beetle's exoskeleton has made the insect indestructible. He and his colleagues didn't movie this comical interplay, however they did get footage of a discipline check through which they ran over the beetle - twice - with a three, 500-pound Toyota Camry, based on the Occasions.

The team hopes to develop solid materials to better understand how the Beetles face such forces. As expected, the insects can take a serious beating, being capable of withstanding continuous forces of up to 150 newtons (15 kg), which corresponds to a pressure exerted by an object 39,000 times its body weight.

"It's a good example of how nature uses this connection", he said.

That's more impressive than it sounds: A vehicle tire would apply a force of about 100 newtons if running over the beetle on a dirt surface, the researchers estimate.

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

Cross-section of the medial suture where two halves of the beetle elytra meet. The puzzle-like configuration of the puzzle allows elasticity under load and stretching and prevents breakage.

The exoskeleton of this beetle is composed of interlocking joints that contribute to its formidable strength. Researchers note that the elytra of the bug no longer serve as wing case for the membranous hind wings, since it has long lost its ability to fly. However, for the terrestrial fiendish iron beetle, its two elytra developed a different goal, protecting its internal organs instead of its wings. It has become considerably harder than the Elytra of other beetles. However, in sturgeon beetles, fused elytra wings fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle along the length of the abdomen of the insect. The protruding parts of these mating parts, called blades, distribute the stress to the exoskeleton to prevent cracking.

But do you remember our analogy between reeds and wind? This locked configuration will collapse completely if the forces are too extreme, but the breaking process is slower and gentler than a simple old push button.

"When you break a puzzle piece, you expect it to separate at the neck, the thinnest part", Kisailus said. "But we don't see such a catastrophic split in this beetle species". Ought to their cleverly craggy disguise fail, their almost-impenetrable exoskeleton will chase away all however probably the most persistent predators.

To give the beetle even more time, the blades have a prickly coating that acts like sandpaper and offers a certain, but not too high, resistance when sliding.

By running computer simulations and printing 3D models of these structures, the researchers were able to replicate these protective effects and further strengthen their assumptions.

The findings could provide clues to the search for stronger building materials for use in construction and aeronautics.

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