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Discovery Magazine 7/1/2001


A Beetle with a Bomb in its Belly

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

Have you ever stopped to consider some of the amazing animals that lived in the past? There were dinosaurs as long as three school busses placed end to end (like Argentinosaurus). There were giant woolly mammoths with huge tusks. And there were reptiles that could fly (like (Pteradactyl).

But not all amazing animals are from the past. We have some pretty intriguing creatures living around us today. Take, for example, the bombardier beetle. It’s pretty small (usually less than two inches long), but it really packs a wallop. Inside its body, it has tiny glands that secrete two chemicals into a "storage tank" (known as a "collecting vesicle"). Those chemicals are hydrogen peroxide (yes, the same stuff your mom puts on your skinned knee) and hydroquinones (hi-drō-kwi-nōns). When the beetle feels threatened, it squeezes muscles that send the chemical mixture into a special "explosion chamber." Attached to that chamber are special "knobs" called "ectodermal glands" that squirt two enzymes into the chamber. Once the chemicals enter the explosion chamber, a tiny muscle called a "sphincter" prevents them from re-entering the storage tank. [Interesting, isn’t it, how many big words it takes to describe such a tiny beetle?!]

This mixture undergoes a chain of chemical reactions that produces an extremely irritating chemical called quinone (kwi-nōn). These reactions release a lot of heat, and the temperature of the solution reaches the boiling point (100ºC or 212ºF) in just a couple of seconds. Some of the water produced by the reactions vaporizes into steam. The steam and oxygen together exert a lot of pressure on the walls of the explosion chamber, but the little sphincter muscle won’t allow anything to go back into the collecting vesicle. So, there’s only one place for the mixture to go—outward! And that is exactly what happens. The mixture is blasted from the little beetle’s tail end with bull’s-eye accuracy that allows the "bomb" to hit a hungry ant or frog.

WHAT?! A beetle with a built-in launcher that shoots boiling chemicals into the face of its enemy—and does it from its tail end without even looking? Think of all the parts that have to be in place for this beetle to do what it does. It has to have a storage vesicle, a sphincter, ectodermal gland, special enzymes, an explosion chamber that can withstand a temperature of 212ºF, and a special duct to aim the mixture accurately. Evolutionists want you to believe that "nature" produced this amazing creature. But nature can’t "design" anything. However, God can. And in the case of the bombardier beetle, He did a magnificent job, wouldn’t you say? Don’t be fooled by evolution. Only God can design a beetle with a bomb in its belly!



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