The Basically Uncrushable Ironclad Beetle

A very fascinating science experiment was conducted and filmed in 2015 by Dr. Rivera. He put an inch long beetle known as Phloeodes diabolicus on a pillow of dirt. He then instructed a colleague to run it over with their car, twice.

Most bugs would have been squished, but the Phloeodes diabolicus, known scientifically as the Diabolical Ironclad Beetle, did not even have a scratch on it.“It’s playing dead. But it’s still alive.” said Dr. Rivera in the video as he checked the beetle.

After this experiment, Dr. Rivera spent several years using scientific insturments to learn more about the beetle's structure and how it is as durable as it is. He even posted several studies about the beetle and how it was constructed. What they found was that the beetle was able to withstand pressures of over 36,000 times its own weight. This is enough weight to jellify a human.

The reason for this seems to have something to do with their now-defunct wings. Since they are now terrestrial beetle, their wings evolved back into their shell, causing a kind of interlocking pattern. This pattern increases the overall durability of the shell, making it super hard to break. The holes inside of the shell actually make them more durable, as it prevents damage due to shockwaves.

“Even if it breaks, it wouldn’t significantly damage the beetle,” said Adriane Minori, a mechanical engineer from the University of California. “It’s a fail-safe mechanism that nature has found — that’s something we can learn from.”

This shell and design are intriguing many engineers, who seek to learn from this material in order to mimic it. Finding a good way to mimick this material can help create more durable materials for aeronautics and other fields. It will be fascinating to know where this information takes us.


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