Study sheds light on Hercules Beatles colour changing ability

March 11th, 2008 - 6:55 pm ICT by admin  


Washington, Mar 11 (ANI): The Hercules Beatle, which can carry 850 times its own weight and is possibly the ’strongest’ creature in the world, is teaching researchers a thing or two about its remarkable colour changing ability.

Researchers at the Belgium-based University of Namur say that they have carried out an investigation into the structure of the species peculiar protective shell that changes from green to black as its surrounding atmosphere gets more humid.

The significance of their research can be inferred from the fact that scientists have long sought to understand the beetles colour-changing trick.

The researchers believe that understanding this ability of the beetle may help design intelligent materials.

During the study, the researchers used a scanning electronic microscope to determine the structure responsible for the colour, and a spectrophotometer to analyse how the light interacts with the structure.

They found that light interferes with the structure to produce the green colour of the shell.

The researchers also found that when water penetrates through the widely-open porous layers, it destroys the interferences phenomenon, leading to a black colouration.

The researchers used dry specimen of the beetles shell to test in laboratory conditions.

However, the researchers admitted that they were yet to determine why the beetle changes colour.

Marie Rassart, who did the research at the University of Namur, said: The sort of structural behaviour displayed by the Hercules Beetle could be an important property for intelligent materials. Such materials could be put to work as humidity sensors. This could be useful for example in food processing plants to monitor the moisture level. (ANI)

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