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Strongest Insect

April 12, 2010

An Australian beetle earns the title of world’s strongest insect.


Insect Olympians. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Dung beetles are best known for their habit of eating poop. But now a species called Onthophagus taurus has earned another claim to fame. It’s the strongest insect on record, according to biologists Leigh Simmons of the University of Western Australia and Rob Knell of Queen Mary University of London. Knell says they put the beetle through its paces.

ROB KNELL (Queen Mary University of London):
The strongest beetle we had was able to support a weight of just over 1100 times its own body size. That’s the equivalent of a human wedging themselves in a tunnel with their elbow and knees, and having six double decker London buses hung from them.

He says this beats a rhinoceros beetle’s record of lifting 850 times its own weight.

Nothing from the insect world, really, that we can find that anyone’s measured comes close to this.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.