Why are beetles so strong?

insect animal

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
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    Dung beetles, it's fair to say, have always punched above their weight. These horned insects spend their days eating faeces, and their dungrolling led the ancient Egyptians to believe they were responsible for keeping the sun moving. Now scientists are also singing their praises after discovering they are strongest insects in the world.

    Plucky male onthophagus taurus can pull 1,141 times their own body weight: the equivalent of an average person pulling six double-decker buses full of people. The news might take the shine off the title of World's Strongest Man for Lithuanian Zydrunas Savickas; in 2009 he pulled a 70-tonne plane for 30m in under 75 seconds – this works out as only 411 times his 170kg body weight. Yet Savickas can hold his head up against the strongest bird, the female harpy eagle, which can carry animals equal to its 9kg weight.

    The beetles' secret, according to Rob Knell of Queen Mary, University of London, who superglued cotton thread to the insects' legs and tied the other end to a pulley, is sex. The males have to be strong enough to battle rivals. "Females of this species dig tunnels under a dung pat, where males mate with them. If a male enters a tunnel that is already occupied, they fight by locking horns and try to push each other out."

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