Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pulling power points the way to world's strongest insect -- a dung beetle

Date:
March 24, 2010
Source:
Queen Mary, University of London
Summary:
Following months of grueling tests and trials, scientists now reveal the world's strongest insect to be a species of dung beetle called Onthophagus taurus.

Example of dung beetles moving a ball of dung.
Credit: iStockphoto/Jenny Waterson

Following months of gruelling tests and trials, scientists now reveal the World's strongest insect to be a species of dung beetle called Onthophagus taurus.

Related Articles


In an experiment to find out why animals vary so much in strength and endurance, Dr Rob Knell from Queen Mary, University of London and Professor Leigh Simmons from the University of Western Australia found the strongest beetle could pull an astonishing 1,141 times its own body weight -- the equivalent of a 70kg person lifting 80 tonnes (the same as six full double-decker buses).

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the scientists also found these insect athletes need to pay just as much attention to their diet as human athletes. Even the strongest beetles were reduced to feeble weaklings when put on a poor diet for a few days.

"Insects are well known for being able to perform amazing feats of strength," explained Dr Knell from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, "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.

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


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen Mary, University of London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Robert J. Knell, Leigh W. Simmons. Mating tactics determine patterns of condition dependence in a dimorphic horned beetle. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 2010; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0257

Cite This Page:

Queen Mary, University of London. "Pulling power points the way to world's strongest insect -- a dung beetle." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100323212158.htm>.
Queen Mary, University of London. (2010, March 24). Pulling power points the way to world's strongest insect -- a dung beetle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100323212158.htm
Queen Mary, University of London. "Pulling power points the way to world's strongest insect -- a dung beetle." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100323212158.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins