Saturday, 29 March 2014

Stag beetle battles: How ungainly jaws bite so hard

By Victoria GillScience reporter, BBC News

Lead researcher Jana Goyens explains what the study has discovered

Researchers have staged stag beetle battles to solve the mystery of how the male beetles bite so hard.

The extreme length of the beetles' jaws should make it difficult for them to produce a forceful bite.

As well as measuring the bite forces that the beetles could produce, the scientists, from Antwerp University, filmed stag beetle fights to assess their biting power.

The findings are reported in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Stag beetles do not use their impressive jaws to eat, as you might expect, but rather to attract females and to fight and wrestle with other males over territory.

"They seem very ferocious," Jana Goyens, from the University of Antwerp, who led the study, told BBC News.

"But long [jaws] should not be very efficient when it comes to transferring very large bite forces - it would seem from a mechanical point of view that they would not bite forcefully."

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