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The Elusive “Scorpion Beetle” – The Only Known Insect Capable of Inoculating Toxins Through Its Antennae

Beetles are generally regarded as harmless to humans. Out of the over 350,000 documented species of beetle, only three are actually known to bite people, and only if they feel threatened. However, there is another species that few sources mention. Onychocerus albitarsis, aka Scorpion Beetle, is the only known insect capable of stinging humans with its antennae and delivering a painful toxin.

First described in 1859 by famous English entomologist Francis Polkinghorne Pascoe, the scorpion beetle is considered by many experts a fascinating case of convergent evolution. While all other known insects deliver venom or toxins by biting with fangs or stinging with a structure used exclusively for this purpose, e.g. a bee’s stinger, the scorpion beetle does it through its two long antennae, which research has shown have evolved to closely resemble a scorpion’s segmented tail.

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Members of Indonesian Sea Nomad Tribe Can Stay Underwater for Up to 13 Minutes at a Time, Thanks to Their Unusually Large Spleens

Known as ‘Sea Nomads’, the Bajau people have wandered the waters of southern Asia for thousands of years, living in house boats and free diving for fish. They’ve long been known for their ability to stay underwater for long periods of time, but until recently, no one really knew how they were able to keep their breath for so long.

According to a recently published study from Cambridge University, the Bajau people have 50 percent larger spleens than their land-dwelling neighbours, which plays a key role in how long they can stay underwater. It plays a key part in what’s known as the “human dive response” or “dive reflex”, preferentially distributing oxygen to the brain and heart, and enabling submersion for long periods of time. As the heart rate slows, blood is directed to the vital organs, and the spleen contracts to push oxygenated red blood cells into the circulation. In an average person, the spleen can boost oxygen levels by 9 percent, but even more in the case of the Bajau, due to its unusually large size.

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