Diabolical Tank

The diabolical ironclad beetle (Phloeodes diabolicus)

What has six legs and is INDESTRUCTIBLE?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Dropped your phone and cracked it AGAIN?? Can’t they make these cases stronger? Jesus Rivera from UC Riverside and team found the solution hiding in a tree.

The Diabolical Ironclad beetle makes its home in the Pacific Northwest. You might even find one when out for a stroll. But don’t worry about stepping on it! They’re nearly unsquishable – that includes withstanding getting run over by the occasional automobile! This beetle shrugs off heavy loads, no problem! But how?

Using CT scans, Rivera found the source of the beetle’s strength. Its shell interlocks like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. This makes it flexible, yet ultra-strong under pressure.

Rivera hopes the beetle’s design may inspire stronger materials. One idea? Car bodies could be replaced with a jigsaw-like system. This could better protect riders in accidents.

But for now, the beetle will continue withstanding ALL of life’s pressures. 

Sorry, Iron Man – even the strongest bodybuilder can’t crush THIS critter!

References: Rivera, J., Hosseini, M. S., Restrepo, D., Murata, S., Vasile, D., Parkinson, D. Y., Barnard, H. S., Arakaki, A., Zavattieri, P., & Kisailus, D. (2020). Toughening mechanisms of the elytra of the diabolical ironclad beetle. Nature, 586(7830), 543–548. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2813-8

Chen P. Y. (2020). Diabolical ironclad beetles inspire tougher joints for engineering applications. Nature, 586(7830), 502–504. https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-02840-1
Photo Credit: Getty