Charles Darwin was a man inordinately fond of beetles. He once caught a rare specimen in one hand, when another, even more remarkable, beetle showed up. He snatched that one up with his other hand. Suddenly, an extraordinary third species crawled past. Darwin, in despair over losing any of them, popped the first one in his mouth. With “unspeakable disgust and pain” he discovered it was a Bombardier Beetle—the only known creature to mix a boiling hot chemical explosion inside its own body. As it squirted livid acid down his throat, he spit the “little inconsiderate beast” out, and all three beetles made their getaway. The Bombardier is a six-legged tank, fitted with two little weapons of destruction: a pair of deadly, swiveling rocket launchers, firing high-pressure clouds of hot, acrid gas to injure shrews, birds, and frogs, and kill would-be invertebrate predators. So, what can we learn from this acerbic little bug? Read on to learn more in our latest installation of The Biomimicry Manual.
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