What would you think if I told you that a steamroller weighing 3900 tons could run over me and not hurt me? I doubt you would even dignify me with an answer because it is obvious that I would be lying. In the natural world, a beetle called the diabolical ironclad beetle (Phloeodes diabolicus) can withstand a force 39,000 times its body weight and not crack. Researchers have nicknamed it “nature’s jawbreaker.”
Scientists have paid a lot of attention paid to this beetle in recent months because the secret of its ability to withstand massive forces has a variety of applications. That secret is in the beetles’ exoskeleton. Tiny interlocked and impact-absorbing structures with zipper-like ridges connect the exoskeleton’s top and bottom and resist bending to protect the vital organs. A damage-resistant joint connects the left and right side of the exoskeleton, and a protein glue helps hold the top and bottom together. If the beetle is put under tremendous force, tiny cracks form in the glue to absorb impact energies without cracking the joint.
The diabolical ironclad beetle can be run over by a car and survive with no damage to its internal organs. Scientists are researching ways to apply the ironclad beetle design to armored vehicles for the military and various medical devices. Humans frequently use God’s designs in living things to produce devices that protect and serve people. Nature’s jawbreaker has one of the most recently studied useful designs. We prefer to call this beetle, “God’s jawbreaker.”
— John N. Clayton © 2020
Reference: Science News, November 21, 2020.