World's strongest insect revealed

Published: Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 18:06 [IST]
 

Washington, March 24 (ANI): Scientists have finally achieved success in finding the world's strongest insect, a species of dung beetle called Onthophagus taurus.

Dr Rob Knell from Queen Mary, University of London and Professor Leigh Simmons from the University of Western Australia discovered the strongest beetle could pull an astonishing 1,141 times its own body weight - the equivalent of a 70kg person lifting 80 tonnes (almost six full double-decker buses).

The researchers also found these insect athletes have to take care of their diet as much as human athletes. Even the strongest beetles were reduced to feeble weaklings when put on a poor diet for a few days.

Dr Knell from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences said: "Insects are well known for being able to perform amazing feats of strength...and it's all on account of their curious sex lives. Female beetles of this species dig tunnels under a dung pat, where males mate with them. If a male enters a tunnel that is already occupied by a rival, they fight by locking horns and try to push each other out."

Knell and Simmons tested the beetles' ability to resist a rival by measuring how much weight was needed to pull him out of his hole.

Dr Knell said: "Interestingly, some male dung beetles don't fight over females.

"They are smaller, weaker and don't have horns like the larger males. Even when we fed them up they didn't grow stronger, so we know it's not because they have a poorer diet. "They did, however, develop substantially bigger testicles for their body size. This suggests they sneak behind the back of the other male, waiting until he's looking the other way for a chance to mate with the female. Instead of growing super strength to fight for a female, they grow lots more sperm to increase their chances of fertilising her eggs and fathering the next generation."

The research has appeared in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (ANI)

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