"This beetle is very hardy", said Pablo Savattiri, a civil engineer at the University of Purdue, who was part of a team of researchers who ran over an insect with a vehicle as part of a new study.
The study appears in the journal Nature.
The exoskeleton is also made of a super tough, layered material.
"These observations could be applied in developing tough, impact- and crush-resistant materials for joining dissimilar materials", researchers say.
"This study really bridges the fields of biology, physics, mechanics and materials science toward engineering applications, which you don't typically see in research", Kisailus said.
The diabolical iron beetle found in the southwestern United States likes to hide under rocks and hide behind tree bark. The hardened elytra ensconcing its wings are the top half of the shell, and they connect to the underbelly of the beetle's exoskeleton to make one overall suit of armor. This enabled it to withstand the pecking of birds that wanted to eat it.
To understand what gives an inch-long beetle its strength, the researchers first tested how much squawking it could take.
For a 200-pound man, that would be like surviving a 7.8-million-pound crush. A tire going over the head would add 100 Newtons of force, which explains how these Beetles can survive run-ins with cars. In this way, the energy is evenly distributed to the exoskeleton.
An excessive close-up of the beetle reveals a jigsaw puzzle-like seam the place two exoskeletal plates meet on its again, which may bear a weight 39,000 occasions its personal physique's with out being crushed. The puzzle-like configuration of the puzzle allows elasticity under load and stretching and prevents breakage. In flying beetles, Elytra serve as protective covers for their hind wings (in ladybirds, Elytra are the red and black spotted shells that open when they have to fly).
"When you bring two metals together, it's usually the joints that fails", Aura Gimm, a program officer with the US Air Force office of scientific research, told NPR.
That variation in joint type "is absent in other beetles, which have only interdigitated supports throughout their bodies", according to Chen.
The outer layer prevents excessive movement and keeps the structure of the exoskeleton intact. They found that the "iron" beetle could resist up to 149 Newtons or 33 pounds of continuous force.
Simulation showing the delamination effect in action. The top piece and bottom piece join together like the two sides of a zipper, each piece zig-zagging into the other. Whereas other beetles had elytra entangled, iron beetles had a greater number of interlocking sections, which resembled pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
But do you remember our analogy between reeds and wind?
The devil's sturgeon beetle rarely breaks.
The interlocking pieces of that suture, called blades, have multiple layers. This locked configuration will collapse completely if the forces are too extreme, but the breaking process is slower and gentler than a simple old push button.
Although ironclad beetles can't fly, it's believed they had this ability a long time ago.
"When you break a puzzle piece, you expect it to separate at the neck, the thinnest part", he said.
"Yeah, it's nonetheless alive", Rivera could be heard saying within the video as he inspects the beetle, a species referred to as Phloeodes diabolicus. Ought to their cleverly craggy disguise fail, their almost-impenetrable exoskeleton will chase away all however probably the most persistent predators.
"The ironclad is a terrestrial beetle, so it's not lightweight and fast but built more like a little tank", said principle investigator and corresponding author David Kisailus, UCI professor of materials science & engineering. They also built a fastener based on the same strategy and it turned out to be just as good, if not better, than traditional engineering fasteners. But knowing about these strategies could already solve fatigue problems in various kinds of machinery.