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Meet Nearly-Indestructible Super-Beetle That Can Even Survive Being Run Over By A Car

Meet Nearly-Indestructible Super-Beetle That Can Even Survive Being Run Over By A Car

Scientists developing new materials are studying an unlikely source of strength: a beetle that can even survive being run over by a car. University of California, Irvine Materials Scientists discover the secrets of almost indestructible insect design.

Southern California's diabolical ironclad beetle has such a tough exoskeleton that it can even survive being run over by a car.

“The ironclad is a terrestrial beetle, so it's not lightweight and fast but built more like a little tank,” said principal investigator and corresponding author David Kisailus, UCI professor of materials science & engineering. “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."

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, and other institutions, in a paper published today in Nature, reveal the material components — and their nano-and micro-scale blueprints — that make the organism so indestructible, while also demonstrating how engineers can benefit from these designs.

Using advanced microscopy, spectroscopy and in situ mechanical testing, researchers identified architectural designs within the exoskeleton of the creature.

Scientists have discovered that the diabolical ironclad beetle's super-toughness lies in its armor.

The insect has two armor-like "elytrons"—used in flying beetles to deploy wings, but the diabolical ironclad beetle does not use its elyton for flight; instead, the elytra and connective suture help to distribute the applied force more evenly throughout the body of the insect.

The team of researchers found that the creature could take an applied force of 150 newtons — about 39,000 times its body weight — before its exoskeleton begins to fracture.

According to Pablo D. Zavattieri, a professor of civil engineering at Purdue and a study author who told CNN. Millions of years ago, most of the beetles flew, but this particular beetle, as part of the evolution process, does not fly anymore. The diabolical ironclad beetle does not use its elyton for flight, instead, the elytra and connective suture help to distribute the applied force more evenly throughout the body of the insect.

David Kisailus said, Native to desert habitats in Southern California, the diabolical ironclad beetle has an exoskeleton that is one of the toughest, most crush-resistant structures known to exist in the animal kingdom, and this study really bridges the fields of biology, physics, mechanics, and materials science to engineering applications that you don't usually see in the research.

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