The Bombardier Beetle
A Caustic Combatant of the Bug World
What is This Species?
The picture to the right depicts a Bombardier Beetle using it's defensive tactic.
Reason for the Flyer
The picture to the left depicts a children's book meant to explain Creationism, 'proving truth' with the Bombardier Beetle.
History of Evolution Detailed
From here on out things become chemically complicated.
These beetles would have had Quinones in their exoskeletal cells which help give their shell their color; this chemical is found in all beetles' and most insects' exoskeletons to this day.
A trait then divided the species that determined how much of the chemical was in the exoskeleton, and beetles with heavier amounts of it were less likely to be eaten because it made them distasteful to predators. This excessive amount of the chemical is found in modern beetles and millipedes.
Then pockets formed in the shell to hold even more of the chemical, and soon the beetle became able to have the chemical seep through their shell when threatened. This is observed in ladybugs nowadays as 'reflex bleeding', or when they release an orange fluid that has an unpleasant taste and smell for predators such as birds.
More muscle forms to aid the secretion of Quinones.
Some of the pockets or glands enlarge into large pores, and these take up the need for smaller ones. Over time 2 glands come to remain.
Soon the beetle yet again evolves to house Hydroquinones in the glands, which is even more distasteful, especially to predators who developed an immunity to Quinones.
Cells begin to form channels connected to the glands so the chemicals can easily be transported between the digestive tract and the actual glands, like the blood stream. Ducts also form to let the toxins in and out.
Then muscle forms over the exit point of the gland to permit secretion more exactly when needed.
Yet again another chemical becomes involved, Hydrogen Peroxide. Though this is known for disinfecting wounds it is used in a lot of cells to aid in metabolism. The chemical is yet again unpleasant to predators as well.
Cells evolve around the opening of the gland that secrete enzymes which intensify the strength of the solution, these enzymes are Peroxidases and other Catalases.
The intensified chemicals produce great heat which lead to the eventual disfunction of the organ in the beetles. However, some evolve to gain heat resistant structures (these structures are found in all forms of life from archaebacteria to desert animals), which stop this from happening and even let enzymes make the chemical reaction more volatile.
Finally the opening tissue narrows, making the secretion of the caustic fluid more like a jet of spray.
The picture above to the right depicts a lady bug using reflex bleeding.
History of Evolution Simplified
- Chemicals are in the exoskeleton of ancient beetles to make them distasteful to predators.
- Beetles with more of this chemical survive.
- Then pockets begin to form in the beetles' shell which hold more of the toxin.
- In one species some pockets/glands enlarge while others shrink due to there being no need for the others. There come to be just two.
- The glands form muscle for easy secretion.
- The beetle evolves another, more displeasing form of the chemical, for predators who have become immune to the other.
- Channels form connecting between the glands and digestive system to transport chemicals easily.
- Muscle forms yet again over the exit point of the toxin to make it more easily controlled.
- Hydrogen Peroxide is evolved to be used in heavy amounts near the second muscle to make everything even more toxic. This chemical is actually used in a lot of different cells from all walks of life to help in cellular digestion.
- Enzymes are produced where the Hydrogen Peroxide is mixed, allowing the concoction to become heated.
- This heat leads to the death of some beetles, so others evolve to have heat resistors in the gland.
- The opening tissue near the second muscle narrows, making the mixture fire out of the abdomen in a cone shaped jet.
The picture above to the right depicts one of the two glands described.
Complete Defensive Anatomy
- Reproduction: Without reproduction the beetle would have not been able to produce offspring, especially that which varies from itself. All creatures need this in order to carry on, and the sexual reproduction insures that there will be unique individuals in the species to adapt to new hazards in their life.
- Survival of the Fittest: That being said, some beetles of course got farther than others. They were presented with the need to fend from predators. Some were capable of developing more toxins than others, allowing them to ward off predators more easily. Other beetles with less toxins were less fortunate. They all needed to not burn themselves with their glands too.
- Heritability: Variation of traits allowed the beetle to actually advance. The way in which creatures naturally vary genetically allows all to be able to progress in the way described previously, by differing between the fellow members of their species some are more capable of defending themselves in their current world. The traits that succeed eventually become dominant and create a new species.
- Mutation: Mutation is when a creature ends up having a random change in their DNA do to cellular mishaps in the creation of a new individual. Some mutations may have been present during the evolution of the Bombardier Beetle, for instance when Hydrogen Peroxide began to be let out near the second muscle.
- Extra Element - Selective Breeding: Some species display selective breeding, which is often called 'controlled natural selection'. It is when individuals of a species display the ability to select a mate based upon specific traits which are found to be 'attractive' to them. This is present in humans as well as birds and many other species of animals.
The picture above to the right depicts Darwin's famous finches.
The Future of the Bombardier Beetle
The picture to the left depicts a drawing of a Bombardier Beetle using it's mechanism on the average ant.