He is not handsome, he is not fat, but he is indestructible. Scientists have unveiled this Wednesday, October 21 the secrets of the diabolical armored scarab – this is the translation of its Latin name -, impossible to crush even with a car. A discovery that could inspire engineering and robotics.
With its rough black back, the Nosoderma diabolical, looks like a large pebble of about 2 cm, living mainly on the west coast of North America, under the bark of oak trees.
No longer having the ability of his ancestors to move away from predators by taking flight, he feigns death when attacked. But it also has a “Remarkable ability to withstand crushing and puncturing blows from predators, and even from an automobile”, according to a study published in the journal Nature .
It can support 39,000 times its weight
The study proves that it can tolerate forces up to 39,000 times its weight, so the creature could compete with cockroaches on the top of the podium of indestructible insects.
This ability, this scarab owes it to a pair of rigid forewings, the elytra, which function as an exoskeleton (an outer skeleton, if you prefer) protecting the insect. They are so hard that entomologists bend their pins when they display the collections in display cases, the study reports.
Scientists from the United States and Japan have studied the structure of these elytra. Using advanced imaging techniques, they observed a series of jigsaw-shaped joints, interlocking like a puzzle, and found that the shape of these blades and their layered microstructure worked to harden the armor.
Compressible robots or armored vehicles
Although ultra-strong, this structure is flexible, giving the beetle the ability to hide under rocks, or twist under tree bark for shelter, carrying extra weight, without damaging its internal organs. .
The researchers then used 3D printing and simulations, to see if this geometric structure could be used as a mechanical fastener to join different materials – plastic and metal – similar to those required in the design of turbines in the aerospace industry. These designs have proven to be stronger than a common engineered gasket.
These scarabs “Could now inspire the design of compressible robots, such as cockroaches which have the similar ability to change shape, or armored vehicles”, commented Po-Yu Chen, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Tsing Hua University, Taiwan.