You Stronger than an Insect?
A Comparative Look at Form, Function and Strength
This experiment allows students to examine the strength
of a common beetle. It allows the student to design his
or her own experiment and work with a gentle and intriguing
insect, the bess beetle (or bess bugs). The student will
use a comparative approach to learn more about ecology,
physiology, anatomy, and behavior and they ways body form
and function influence strength.
Beetles in general
are very strong. The rhinoceros beetle is the strongest
creature on earth; can pull 850 times its own weight. In
contrast, an elephant can only carry up to 25% of its body
weight – no contest! Strength depends on form and
function – the skeleton (exo- or endoskeleton) and
the muscles. The thick exoskeleton of beetles provides an
excellent point for muscle attachment. The thorax, from
which all six legs originate, is full of muscles, giving
the beetle unparalleled strength.