Friday, September 9, 2011

Species of the week: The rhinoceros beetle

Whether your response to the rhinoceros beetle (pictured below) is in admiration or fear, it is undeniable that the creature is wholly impressive in stature.

Image courtesty of quest4tvl5a on pixdaus.com
Though the beetle does not sting or bite, it does still possess massive power. This power comes in the form of its record-breaking weight-lifting skills. The beetle is the strongest animal on the planet (relative to size). The Hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules) is the strongest of the rhinoceros beetles, and the males are able to lift roughly 850x their own body weight. If a human were lucky enough to possess this strength, they could lift 6 double decker buses.

Male Hercules beetles can be up to 17cm long, and weigh up to 120g. The species exhibits ‘sexual dimorphism’, which means that females and males are very different in appearance. For a long time, scientists thought that they were actually separate species; only the males have horns (which make up to half of their body length). These horns are used to fight other males, burrow into wood and move obstacles (like sticks, rocks and small logs) out of its way.

Due to these wood burrowing tendencies, rhinoceros beetles are actually seen as a pest in many countries, as they can bore into young trees before they are strong enough to survive the damage. Various bio-pesticides, such as the Metarhizium anisopliae fungus, are used to control their numbers.

The Rhinoceros beetles feature in the Society of Biology’s ‘Animal Olympians’ activity, which will be showcased, along with a collection of other biological displays and experiments, as part of the Society’s interactive stand at BBC Bang Goes The Theory LIVE this weekend in Bradford.


2 comments:

  1. awesome i love that you posted the weight of it too! I couldn't find that on any other websites.

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  2. So these suckers can lift 102 kilograms? I have a hard time believing it@

    ReplyDelete