Questions for “The diabolical ironclad beetle is nearly unsquishable”

The diabolical ironclad beetle looks sort of like a rock — and it’s almost as unbreakable. Thanks to the intricate connections between different parts of the insect’s exoskeleton, this hardy beetle can withstand getting run over by a car.

David Kisailus

To accompany “The diabolical ironclad beetle is nearly unsquishable


Before Reading:

1.  What is an exoskeleton?

2.  What might be some benefits of having an exoskeleton? What might be some of the drawbacks?   

During Reading:

1.  Where does Phloeodes diabolicus dwell?

2.  How much weight could the diabolical ironclad beetle’s armor withstand?

3.  What are the two key microscopic features that gives the ironclad beetle its rigidity?

4.  What substance glues together the layers of tissue that make up a series of protrusions, or blades, that connect the beetle’s left and right sides ?

5.   According to scientists, what happens to that “glue” when the beetle is squished? What impact does that have on the beetle’s structure?

6.   True or false: The front of the beetle’s exoskeleton is less flexible than the back.

After Reading:

1.  Put on your thinking cap. In what ways might the design of the diabolical ironclad beetle’s exoskeleton help engineers design stronger structures? Where or how might such tough structures be used.