Toad: why should I eat this kind of food?
in nature, being swallowed by a predator often means that the life of the prey is over. But sometimes the plot can be reversed. The beetle below was swallowed by the toad but spit out again. The beetle seemed fine and crept away calmly: the beetle in the
picture is a Pheropsophus jessoensis that escaped not because of luck, but because of the blessing of "chemical weapons".
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in times of danger, many beetle species can spray irritating heat fog to attack each other. Usually, they keep reactants (hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide) in different "compartments" of the body and mix them at critical moments. Hydroquinone is oxidized under the catalysis of enzymes, producing the irritating "chemical weapon" p-benzoquinone. Hydrogen peroxide decomposes to produce oxygen to provide jet power, while the chemical reaction exothermic also heats the liquid to a high temperature to increase damage, even up to 100 ℃. It is precisely because of this characteristic that these beetles are called "bombardier beetle" in English and "fart bugs" in China.
(chemical weapon spray close-up)
before that, people had observed beetles attacking their enemies, and this time, Japanese researchers have found the flip side of the weapon-it still works even in the belly of predators. They observed that even after the beetles were swallowed by toads, they still won themselves a considerable chance of survival by spraying chemical weapons.
Toad's tongue moves so fast that it can swallow the beetle before it reacts. But after eating the fart beetle, the toads will regret it: a wave of chemical weapons will explode in its stomach. These ejections are not enough to kill them, but they are enough to make toads feel uncomfortable and cause them to vomit (unlike humans, toads take longer to vomit).
in order to understand the effect of this mechanism, the researchers conducted experiments with two kinds of toads. As a result, 107 minutes after swallowing fart beetles, 43% of the toads spit out their prey. All the 16 beetles spit out by toads were still alive, of which 15 survived for at least two weeks and one even lived for more than 18 months. This not only shows the power of chemical weapons, but also shows that these beetles are resistant to the digestive juices in the stomach of toads. If the beetles are pre-treated so that no more chemicals can be released, their chances of escape will be greatly reduced.
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