CLICK FOR DOWNLOAD
The atlas beetle (Chalcosoma atlas), is one of the world's largest beetles.
The Atlas beetle belongs to the family Scarabaeidae. The Atlas beetle is found in southern Asia, particularly Malaysia. It is remarkable for its size which can be between 25 and 145 millimetres. Like many insect species, the male is larger than the female and usually two males will fight for dominance, the winner permitted to mate with the female in question.
The Atlas beetle is, like other beetles of the genus Chalcosoma, notable for its size and its horns that are located on its head. It is a very strong beetle and can carry 4 grams in weight. The Atlas beetle differs from other Chalcosoma species as its cephalic (relating to the head) horn is much broader.
Atlas beetles belong to the subfamily (Dynastinae) rhinoceros beetles, so called because of the horns on the males heads that they use when fighting over females. Often the battles take place high in the trees where the loser will be tossed off the side and fall many metres to the ground, so he then has to make a long climb back to the top, where another battle awaits.
These beetles have been recorded lifting up to 850 times their own weight - that is the equivalent of a human lifting a lorry. They are considered to be the strongest animals on earth proportionally.
One fascinating fact about the Atlas beetle is that its larvae is known for its fierce behaviour. The larvae is capable of biting, even if only touched. It is also known that larvae that live together will fight to the death if there is not enough space or food.
The beetles start their life as larvae about the size of a human thumb living in the trunks of fallen trees and eating the rotting wood. After two years they become pupae and eventually hatch into beetles when they feed on plant nectar and fruit. Although they can fly, atlas beetles are so heavy that they have trouble getting into the air from the ground, so to become airborne they usually launch themselves off trees. They are found mainly in Malaysia.
The name of the Atlas beetle may have originated from the Atlas Mountains.
Rhinoceros beetles have become popular pets in parts of Asia, due to being relatively clean, easy to maintain, and safe to handle. Also in Asia, male beetles are used for gambling fights. Since males naturally have the tendency to fight each other for the attention of females, they are the ones used for battle. To get the two male beetles to lock in combat, a female beetle or a small noisemaker is used to duplicate the female's mating call.
Entomologist Severin Tchibozo suggests the larvae contain much more protein (40%), than chicken (20%) and beef (approximately 18%) and they could become a protein source for a large human population.
Some species can become major pests, e.g., in tree plantations. Usually though, beetle population densities are not as high as in some other pest insects, and food trees which are typically already sick or dying from some other cause are preferred. Some species' larvae, however, will attack healthy trees or even root vegetables, and when they occur in large numbers, can cause economically significant damage. The fungus Metarhizium anisopliae is a proven biocontrol agent for beetle infestation in crops.
Dr. MinJun Kim, leading a team of engineers in National Science Foundation-funded research, examined the function and aerodynamics of the Allomyrina dichotoma beetle, with the help of researchers in Drexel University's Mechanical Engineering Department and in collaboration with Konkuk University in South Korea. Rhinoceros beetles could play a big part in the next generation of aircraft design.