Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Creature Feature #63: Bombardier Beetle

There are more than 500 species of Bombardier Beetle, which are named for their powerful defense mechanisms. If threatened, they spray a hot and noxious chemical mixture from their abdomen. The chemistry behind this small, controlled explosion is intriguing - inside the abdomen are two different sacs: one of hydroquinone, the other of hydrogen peroxide. These are mixed in a third chamber with water and catalystic enzymes and the reaction sets the water to boiling point and releases a gas that results in the ejected spray. This can kill small predators, and is painful to larger ones. This novel defense mechanism is sometimes cited as evidence of “intelligent design”.

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