If you think that cockroaches are the most resistant insect in the world, it is because you do not yet know the diabolic iron beetle (Phloeodes devil), able to survive unscathed even after being stepped on by a shoe or a car. The researchers hope that the structure of the “armor” of this species will give them clues on how to develop materials resistant to impact and pressure. The results were published this Wednesday in Nature.
Unlike cockroaches, this is not the type of beetle you find walking around the house or in a public bathroom. The diabolic iron beetle lives in the western United States and, like many family members, has lost the ability to fly. To compensate, the rigid outer wings (the elitra) merged and became ultra-resistant.
This beetle is able to withstand being crushed with more force than any other non-flying beetle, with a force of about 39 thousand times its weight, which is something like a 90 kilogram human being able to withstand the weight of 280 buses two-story, explains The Guardian.
With advanced microscopy techniques, mechanical tests and computer simulations, the American team was able to understand the secrets of such a resistant armor. First, the two hardened wings are merged into a wavy structure almost like two fingers with crossed fingers. Second, elitra is made up of layers, rich in proteins, that flake when pressed instead of breaking. Third, elitra has several types of connections to the bottom of the organism, also rigid and that protects the organs, allowing to relieve tension when it is crushed.
Now, researchers want to apply what they have learned from nature to engineering to create connections that are more resistant to tension, in the same way that the structure of the elitra holds long enough for the diabolic iron beetle to escape before being crushed. by a predator.