The diabolical ironclad beetle is so well armoured that it can survive being run over by vehicles and has foxed many an entomologist’s attempts to use standard pins to mount them in display cases. Now, David Kisailus and colleagues report a comprehensive investigation into how the exoskeleton is so tough, in terms of its structure and underlying material composition. They also show how a structure of interlocking plates in the beetle’s elytra can be replicated in carbon fibre and provide engineering joints that are stronger and more resilient to failure than the typical joints used in aerospace applications.
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