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Bombardier Beetle

Dragon
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Post by Dragon Tue Jun 16, 2020 10:51 pm

Bombardier beetles are ground beetles (Carabidae) in the tribes Brachinini, Paussini, Ozaenini, or Metriini—more than 500 species altogether—which are most notable for the defense mechanism that gives them their name: when disturbed, they eject a hot noxious chemical spray from the tip of the abdomen with a popping sound.

The spray is produced from a reaction between two chemical compounds, hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide, which are stored in two reservoirs in the beetle's abdomen.

When the aqueous solution of hydroquinones and hydrogen peroxide reaches the vestibule, catalysts facilitate the decomposition of the hydrogen peroxide and the oxidation of the hydroquinone.

Heat from the reaction brings the mixture to near the boiling point of water and produces gas that drives the ejection. The damage caused can be fatal to attacking insects. Some bombardier beetles can direct the spray in a wide range of directions.

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Post by Dragon Tue Jun 16, 2020 10:53 pm

Bombardier Beetle Brachinus_spPCCA20060328-2821B
By Patrick Coin (Patrick Coin)

Bombardier Beetle, Brachininae sp., Orange County, North Carolina, United States. Length 13 mm.

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Post by Dragon Tue Jun 16, 2020 11:00 pm

The beetle's extraordinary arsenal has been held up by some as a proof of God's existence: how on earth, creationists argue, could such a complex, multistep defense mechanism evolve by chance?

"We explain for the first time how these incredible beetles biosynthesize chemicals to create fuel for their explosions," said Athula Attygalle, a research professor of chemistry and lead author of the work, which appears today in the July 2020 issue of the Science of Nature. "It's a fascinating story that nobody has been able to tell before."

It's fascinating that the beetles can safely metabolize such toxic chemicals, Attygalle said. In future studies, he hopes to follow the beetles' chemical supply chain further upstream, to learn how the precursors are biosynthesized from naturally available substances.

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Post by Dragon Tue Jun 16, 2020 11:01 pm



Bombardier Beetle Sprays Acid From Its Rear


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