Sunday Sketch: Cool Under Pressure

Unlike some other beetles, the diabolical ironclad beetle, Phloeodes diabolicus, is unable to fly and therefore has trouble getting away from predators. Needing to employ a different strategy for protection, the beetle has exoskeletal forewings that are incredibly impact- and crush-resistant; they can withstand continuous impact up to 149 Newtons, about 39,000 times their body weight. Scientists have recently been able to identify how the structure of the outer wing case is able to withstand so much pressure. Essentially, the wings are made up of smoothly interlocking puzzle piece-like parts that interlock together to form a jigsaw-like internal structure that distributes stress across the wing case and makes it extremely difficult to crack.

Sketch contributed by Melissa Jones. Fact contributed by Adrian Perez.

[Edited by Adrian Perez]

Source: Rivera, J., Hosseini, M. S., Restrepo, D., Murata, S., Vasile, D., Parkinson, D. Y., … & Kisailus, D. (2020). Toughening mechanisms of the elytra of the diabolical ironclad beetle. Nature586(7830), 543-548.

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