Watch: This Beetle Can Survive Being Eaten By Frogs
Regimbartia attenuata was just another species of water beetle until this week when scientists discovered that they can live through being eaten by a frog and survive the journey through its gut and simply exiting through the butt hole.
The surprising result of the study came out on Monday and has left many astonished as not many creatures can survive being swallowed alive and making through their predator’s digestive system and then crawl out the “back door” to go on with their lives.
The study of Regimbartia attenuata’s survival was carried out by Shinji Sugiura, an associate professor in the department of Agrobioscience at Kobe University in Japan.
For the study, he put the tiny beetles in the same laboratory bin with specimens from five different frog species.
The frogs ate 15 of the bugs but excreted 93% of them alive within four hours. Some came out entangled in frog excrement, but they soon recovered and went on to live normal lives for weeks after the experiments.
Frog rely on their digestive system to kill and digest swallowed food because they lack teeth to kill their prey.
However, this does not work on Regimbartia attenuata beetles though as Sugiura tried the same experiment on a different aquatic beetle(Enochrus japonicus), all of which were swallowed and excreted more than a day later.
“Here, I report active escape of the aquatic beetle R. attenuata from the vents of five frog species via the digestive tract,” Shinji Sugiura wrote in his study. “Although adult beetles were easily eaten by frogs, 90 percent of swallowed beetles were excreted within six hours after being eaten and, surprisingly, were still alive.”
It is unclear how the beetles find their way through the frog’s bowls, but Sugiura knows they need their legs to move in there.
Some of the bugs’ legs were fixed together with sticky wax and without their means of locomotion, the bugs died and were excreted as feces.
On the other hand, the beetles that were free to move, emerged alive and well in a few hours. The fastest R. attenuata specimen exited the “gauntlet” in just after 7 minutes after being swallowed.
“Beetles tend to have tough exoskeletons relative to most insects, and many aquatic beetles in particular carry their own air to breathe from,” Matthew Pintar, an aquatic ecologist at Florida International University, told CNN. “Both of these characteristics may help prevent digestion if they are able to quickly move through the frog’s digestive tract, which R. attenuata is capable of.”
Another mysterious aspect of the beetle’s daring escape is how it manages to open the frog’s “back door”. The sphincter muscle pressure keeps the vent closed, and since R. attenuata specimens always exit head-first, Shinji Sugiura believes they must stimulate the hind gut somehow, urging the frog to defecate.
Even the Japanese scientist who conducted these unusual experiments declared his surprise after documenting the beetle’s escape.
“I did not predict that R. attenuata can escape from the frog vent,” Sugiura told WIRED Magazine. “I simply provided the beetle to the frogs, expecting that the frogs spat them out in response to the beetles’ behavior or something.”