If ever there were an insect deserving of superhero status, it’d be the diabolical ironclad beetle. Native to Southern California desert habitats, this beetle looks a bit like a rock, and its ability to play dead helps it evade predators such as birds, lizards and rodents. But what makes the diabolical ironclad beetle exceptional, as its name suggests, is its rock-hard, crush-resistant exoskeleton. In fact, the bug can survive being run over by a car — and that’s a feat that piqued the interest of researchers.
In a new study published in Nature, researchers from University of California, Irvine, Purdue University and other institutions delve into the material makeup of the beetle’s armor. This mighty tough bug can withstand a force of 39,000 times its body weight, according to the researchers. To put things into perspective, that would be the equivalent of a 200-pound man enduring the crushing weight of 7.8 million pounds (more than six airplanes!) to equal this feat.
Here’s a video of the squish-resistant beetle being run over, playing dead and then casually strutting away from the scene — unscathed: