Many of the advanced technologies that humans have developed for survival, insects possess naturally. In some cases, their nature has human technology beat.
Spiders: “Material toughness” is defined as the amount of energy per volume that a material can absorb without rupturing. Kevlar, the stuff in bulletproof vests, is among the toughest materials ever made by man. Spider silk is up to three times tougher. It’s also five times stronger than steel. What’s more, this silk is incredibly lightweight; a strand long enough to circle the Earth would weigh less than a bar of soap.
So how do they produce this amazing material? They assemble proteins together (in their gut) into extremely long and unbreakable chains, then spit the assembled protein chains out through glands called “spinnerets” near their mouths, while at the same time removing water, which hardens it into a strand. By weaving these “silk” strands together, they build elaborate webs from which entangled prey have no hope of escaping.
Scientists are hard at work, in their labs, spending millions of dollars, attempting to replicate spider silk. Having sequenced the silk gene, they are inserting it into all manner of living things (bacteria, plants and animals) in the hopes that they’ll produce quality silk in abundant quantities. So far, nothing beats the silk made in the bellies of spiders and it doesn’t cost the spiders a cent!
Spiders can also spin their silk into gold. Golden fabrics, that are worth their weight in gold. The American Museum of Natural History in New York City is home to the largest known tapestry of spider silk, woven using 1,063,000 spiders in Madagascar. The creation of such an ornate and unique tapestry begs the question: what can man do with this new medium?
Cockroaches: No radiation sickness for these guys. Nor will they be wiped out, as a species, by high radiation levels, from a powerful nuclear explosion, that would effectively wipe out all of humanity. What gives roaches this amazingly effective, radiation shielding? It’s biological.
Cockroaches, and a few other hardy insects, can withstand much higher levels of radiation than humans. How is this possible? Well, it’s a known fact (among the scientific community) that cells are most susceptible to radiation when they are dividing and cockroach cells divide only when they molt, which is a weekly occurrence, that lasts two days. Therefore, only those roaches molting at the time of high radiation levels, will be killed. Human skin cells, on the other hand, divide about every 1/2 to 1 1/2 hours depending where they are on the body.
- A cockroach can lose its head and still survive. The organs that control the cockroach’s vital functions can be found in the thorax or the middle part of the cockroach. So, when they lose their head, which does contain a primitive brain, they will continue to go about their daily business until they get hungry or thirsty. Headless, they can neither eat nor drink and will die within days from thirst.
- A cockroach can hold its breath for 40 minutes, and can even survive being submerged under water for half an hour.
- Cockroaches can leap tall grasses at a single bound. At least a species of Japanese cockroach can.
Bees: Ever try to take an extra suitcase on a plane, only to be told, sorry, that will be another $25? Cash or card? Why the extra charge? It’s because airplanes aren’t made to carry too much excess weight and still remain in the air.
Bees, on the other hand, are engineered, to stay aloft carrying plenty of extra weight. Because of their heavy lifting ability compared to their size and their haphazard flapping of wings, scientists were, for years, amazed that they could keep themselves aloft. The secret of honeybee flight, current researchers say, is the unconventional combination of short, choppy wing strokes, a rapid rotation of
the wing as it flops over and reverses direction, and a very fast wing-beat frequency (super-fast, at around 230 beats per second). For efficiency, lift capacity and flight dependability, the Bee, hands down, has it all over man’s best efforts to create the perfect flying machine.
Besides being able to fly while defying the laws of aerodynamics, bees also navigate their surroundings by other means like remembering visual landmarks, taking the sun’s position into account, and using the Earth’s electromagnetic field.
The typical loads collected by a foraging honeybee are:
Nectar: 30-50mg (but can take up to 100mg, a bee’s weight is about 90mg)
Water: 25mg (max 50mg)
Pollen: 16mg (8mg x 2 pollen baskets on their legs)
Bees are in the news again as they take another hit to species survival. Extinction may be fast approaching certain bee species. The Rusty patched bumble bee has just been added to the endangered species list here in the U.S. as it poputations have decreased 87%.
Can’t wait to find out what other amazing super powers insects have? Follow this link: http://www.toptenz.net/10-insects-with-amazing-superpowers.php