Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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The amazing cockroach

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Testing the bite force of American cockroaches. Image from: Tom Weihmann | University of Cambridge

I’ll admit I get a bit squeamish when I see a cockroach. However, after reading new research about the “ew” inspiring creatures, I have a bit more respect for them.

Not only can these bugs run vertically up walls, survive nuclear war and live without their head for weeks (thus I suggest squishing the whole body), new research published in PLOS ONE shows they have super-biting powers. The research team measured bite force using a sensor (shown in the image above).

The reason for doing the study in the first place was elegantly explained by lead study author Tom Weihmann (University of Cambridge) who was quoted in a university press release: “As insects play a dominant role in many ecosystems, understanding the amount of force that these insects can exert through their mandibles is a pivotal step in better understanding behavioural and ecological processes and enabling bioinspired engineering.”

What they observed was rather impressive: the American cockroach is able to bite with a force that is about 50 times more powerful than the animal’s body weight. The hope is to use these findings to help develop biologically-inspired technologies.

Sources:

Super Powers: Scientific American

Super Bite:

Weihmann T, Reinhardt L, Weißing K, Siebert T, Wipfler B. Fast and Powerful: Biomechanics and Bite Forces of the Mandibles in the American Cockroach Periplaneta Americana. PLOS ONE. Published: November 11, 2015. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0141226

University of Cambridge Press Release

Categories: Comparative Physiology

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