Flesh-Eating Dermestid Beetles Are On Staff At Many Museums

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Flesh-Eating Dermestid Beetles Are On Staff At Many Museums

Dermestids have a life cycle that lasts from 2 to 3 months, during which they hatch as a larva from an egg laid on dead tissue, consume the tissue, and mature into an adult beetle. These colonies are valuable to museums and taxidermists who maintain them as a way to clean flesh from specimen skeletons in a process called skeletonization. The beetles eat efficiently, and will leave fragile components of even the smallest skeletons intact. They're also used in forensic investigations by wildlife law enforcement agencies.

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from Deep Look

Key Facts to Know

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    The scientists at UC Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology receive hundreds of carcasses every year that they preserve. 0:45

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    To remove a carcass's flesh without damaging the bone, some museum preparators rely on flesh-eating beetles. 1:03

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    Dermestid beetles can pick a carcass clean while leaving the most delicate bone structures intact. 1:49

The Hercules Beetle Is The Strongest Insect In The World

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The Hercules Beetle Is The Strongest Insect In The World

The Hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules) is the largest of the rhinoceros beetles, and the strongest insect on record. Males use their specialized oversized appendages to fight other males while courting females. When not around other male Hercules beetles, these insects are generally harmless.

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from NatGeoWild

Key Facts to Know

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    The Hercules beetle is the largest beetle in Central America. 0:07

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    The Hercules beetles measures half a foot long and weighs two ounces. 0:23

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    See two male Hercules beetles battle: 0:41

Dung Beetles Use The Galaxy For Navigation

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Dung Beetles Use The Galaxy For Navigation

Dung beetles try to roll their balls of dung away from the dung pile in a straight line. That way, they avoid competitors who might try to steal their dung ball. But because they move backwards, they often encounter obstacles and lose their way. Scientists have found that in order to reorient themselves, the beetles clamber up onto the dung ball and locate the position of the sun, moon, stars, and even the bright band of light from the Milky Way. Thus far, they are the only animal that has been proven to use the galaxy for navigation (though researchers speculate that other insects do so as well).

02:36

from ze frank

Key Facts to Know

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    Female dung beetles judge potential mates by the size of their dung balls. 0:34

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    When they roll their dung balls off course, dung beetles can use the sun, the moon, and the Milky Way to reorient themselves. 1:08

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    Female dung beetles lay their eggs inside balls of dung. 1:43

People Took Beetles To Court

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People Took Beetles To Court

When beetles went to court, they were assigned a lawyer who argued in their favor. These trials typically had a religious bent, with the beetles being denounced as creations of the devil or a punishment from God. One case that began in 1545 pitted winemakers against weevils, and lasted for several years. The final judgment is unknown—rats or insects appear to have chewed up the page that announces the verdict.

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Key Facts to Know

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    Some experts believe that humans have evolved to fear bugs in the interest of our own survival. 0:38

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    In the Middle Ages, courts convicted and sentenced groups of beetles. 1:01

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    Japanese culture takes a far more appreciative stance on insects than American culture. 1:59

The Bombardier Beetle

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The Bombardier Beetle

The bombardier beetle combines hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide within its abdomen, heating the mixture to near-boiling temperatures, and ejecting it toward potential threats. This compound is fatal for other insects, and is still very painful for humans.