Do you pump iron? Unless you’re an athlete in high school, you probably don’t spend a lot of time lifting weights. It’s important to stay in shape, of course, but younger children can get all the exercise they need by running and playing.
Building strong muscles as you get older can help you stay healthy and in shape. You don’t need to have huge muscles like Popeye to be strong, though. In fact, would you believe that the strongest human beings can’t match the strength of the strongest insects?
Sure, you might be able to lift more weight than the average ant. But what about in comparison to your size? After all, you are a lot bigger than an ant. For their size, ants — and several other insects — are incredibly strong.
For example, the humble dung beetle, whose scientific name is Onthophagus Taurus, was recently named the world’s strongest insect by a group of scientists. How strong is it? You might be amazed.
The strongest dung beetle can pull weight up to 1,141 times its own body weight. That’s like a human being lifting over 180,000 pounds! Think you can lift 90 tons?
Ants are not nearly as strong as dung beetles, but they can also do some impressive work. If you’ve ever seen an ant colony at work, you know that ants can carry leaves, rocks and other materials much bigger than themselves. Ants have been known to carry objects up to 50 times their own body weight.
So why are ants and other insects so strong? It’s actually because of their small size. When you lift something, your muscles must also lift parts of your own body, like your arms and your legs. The bigger you are, the more these body parts weigh. The more these body parts weigh, the less overall weight you’re able to lift.
Tiny ants and other insects have to lift very little of their own body weight, because they’re so small. As a result, they’re able to lift objects much bigger than themselves. In other words, most of their strength goes to lifting an object, rather than their own body parts.
This can be seen in the work of leafcutter ants. These ants will attack leaves, flowers and grasses, cutting down and carrying off large pieces many times their body size. Although these ants are tiny, their powerful jaws can cut, lift and carry pieces of vegetation weighing 50 times their own body weight. That’s like you lifting a truck with your teeth!