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Thinking for a cooler world

Klaus Esterluß | Marvel with us

#speciesoftheweek: The Rhinoceros Beetle and its Battle Styles

Male rhinoceros beetles are among the strongest animals in the world. The brawny insects can lift up to 850 times their own body weight. That strength is beaten only by the dung beetle, which can lift far more than 1,000 times its own weight. However, of you had the strength of the rhinoceros beetle, you could easily lift the massive species of dinosaur that was discovered just recently. Or a Boing 737, your choice.

Fighting with style, the Rhinoceros Beetle, cc by 2.0, Geoff Gallice via

Fighting with style, the Rhinoceros Beetle, cc by 2.0, Geoff Gallice via

Rhinoceros beetles are very well known for their elaborate horns, which they use when fighting for pretty rhinoceros beetle girls. The shape and number of these horns look different from species to species. And, Erin McCullough and her colleagues at the University of Montana discovered that different horns are used for different fighting styles.

Now, as it was complicated to persuade certain species of rhinoceros beetles to fight each other, the researchers used models of the horns and computer simulations “to calculate the stresses and strains the horns would experience when used for different methods of fighting,” reports According to the report, the researchers studied three species: Trypoxylus dichotomus, Golofa porteri, and Dynastes hercules. All of these species use their different shaped horns in different ways: Trypoxylus’ pitchforked-shaped horns are great to pry and twist opponents off tree trunks, Golofa’s long, slender horns are used like swords and the thoracic horns of Dynastes help the beetle to lift and squeeze opponents before tossing them to the ground.

So, if you happen to be a rhinoceros beetle, you better take the look at the shape of the horns before you start a fight.


September 12, 2014