Beetle "hears" when it is burning
Written by Dr. H. P. Bustami
Saturday, 16 August 2008
| His larvea feed on burnt wood and so mother nature invented for a tiny
little beetle a special device to "hear" the fires which can provide a
home to his offspring. Even in 80 kilometres distance the insects from
the family of the jewel beetles (or metallic wood-boring beetles) can
detect the infrared light emitted by fires. The zoologists from the University of Bonn (Germany) now provided
evidence for this fire sensor which is fivefold as sensitive as
technical infrared sensors.
Jewel beetle (Melanophila acuminata). photo: AG Prof. Schmitz , University Bonn, Germany)
The heat stimulus which arrives on the beetles surface is directly transformed into a mechanical stimulus for which the beetle has special mechanical receptors which are common in insects (for example in grasshoppers and crickets to detect sound waves being part of the "ears" of these insects).
Eventually these pressure variations caused by the transformed heat stimulus elicit an electrical impulse in sensory neurons. These sensory neurons relay the information to the insect brain.
Infrared sensor of a jewel beetle (photo: AG Prof. Schmitz)
Such sophisticated infrared sensors are not very common in nature and show again the high developed mechanisms in apparently "primitive" animals like insects. Man is far away from reaching such perfection in his own techniques.
- Martin M
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