Beetles with real pulling power...
By Peter Petterson
First published at Qondio:
When it comes to the animal kingdom, there are many creatures that display impressive feats of strength, relative to their size - such as many varieties of ants. But there is another whose actions are simply outstanding - the Onthophagus Taurus - or the male dung beetle.
A new study has revealed that this powerful beetle can pull 1141 times its own body weight - the equivalent of a 70kg person lifting 80 tonnes. It's all because of their unique mating arrangements.
Female beetles dig tunnels, where the males mate with them. If a male enters a tunnel occupied by another male rival, they fight by locking horns and try to push each other out of the tunnel, according to Dr Rob Knell, of Queen Mary, University of London. Some of the males don't fight over the females - they are smaller...and weaker. This constant battle improves the genetic strength and size of these beetles.
In New Zealand these excrement loving creatures, who roll their balls of dung along the ground, could one day become a familiar sight on farms in the future. These unlikely insects may one day help to solve some of the environmental problems created by agriculture, as well as improving New Zealand farm production.