Wings of beetles fold multiple times without wear or fatigue by having resilin in key joints.
"Beetles use their fore-wings for a different purpose altogether. These creatures are the heavy armoured tanks of the insect world and they spend a great deal of their time on the ground, barging their way through the vegetable litter, scrabbling in the soil or gnawing into wood. Such activities could easily damage delicate wings. The beetles protect theirs by turning the front pair into stiff thick covers which fit neatly over the top of the abdomen. The wings are stowed neatly beneath, carefully and ingeniously folded." (Attenborough 1979:79)
"This account shows the distribution of elastic elements in hind wings in the scarabaeid Pachnoda marginata and coccinellid Coccinella septempunctata (both Coleoptera). Occurrence of resilin, a rubber–like protein, in some mobile joints together with data on wing unfolding and flight kinematics suggest that resilin in the beetle wing has multiple functions. First, the distribution pattern of resilin in the wing correlates with the particular folding pattern of the wing. Second, our data show that resilin occurs at the places where extra elasticity is needed, for example in wing folds, to prevent material damage during repeated folding and unfolding. Third, resilin provides the wing with elasticity in order to be deformable by aerodynamic forces. This may result in elastic energy storage in the wing." (Haas et al. 2000:1375)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Attenborough, D. 1979. Life on earth. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. 319 p.
- Haas F; Gorb S; Blickhan R. 2000. The function of resilin in beetle wings. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 267(1451): 1375-1381.
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