The mighty cockroach can pack a powerful bite with 50 times more force than the bug's body weight, suggested a new research. The study indicates that cockroaches use a combination of fast and slow twitch muscle fibers to give their mandibles a 'force boost' that allows them to chew through tough substances.
The research shows that cockroaches activate these slow twitch muscle fibers only when chewing on tough material such as wood that requires repetitive, hard biting to generate a bite force 50 times stronger than their own body weight.
‘Cockroaches have a special set of muscles that make them bite with five times the force than a human can generate with their jaws.
Lead author Tom Weihmann from the University of Cambridge said, "As insects play a dominant role in many ecosystems, understanding the amount of force that these insects can exert through their mandibles is a pivotal step in better understanding behavioral and ecological processes and enabling bio-inspired engineering."
Weihmann further added, "Insects provide a major part of the faunal biomass in many terrestrial ecosystems. Therefore they are an important food source but also crucial as decomposers of plants and animals. In this way they are crucial for material cycles and the ecological balance. We found that the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, can generate a bite force around 50 times stronger than their own body weight. In relative terms that's about five times stronger than the force a human can generate with their jaws. Gaining a better understanding of how the delicate structure of the head capsule withstands such powerful forces over an insect's lifetime could also have interesting applications for bio-inspired engineering."
The study is published in PLOS ONE.