Mary’s Monday Metazoan: Armored beast

Acanthoplus discoidalis

But there’s something really special about this insect.

To become unpalatable, the insects squirt toxic blood out of gaps in their body and make themselves sick by throwing up food they’ve just eaten.

Isn’t that neat-o?

(via Colin Hanbury)


  1. daswollff says

    Nature can be so inspiring sometimes…

    An intricate imagined predator prey relationship
    A play in one scene

    Pious Predator
    Philosophical Prey

    Scene 1

    A desert.

    Predator stumbles upon prey.

    Pious Predator: “Praised be the Lord for guiding me toward such a splendid and blessed meal!
    Haha you crunchy locust, say your prayers and prepare to meet your maker since it’s dinnertime!

    Philosophical Prey: Don’t eat me, I am the savior, your Lord made flesh!

    Pred: I don’t believe you.

    Prey: Wanna see?

    Prey starts bleeding vigorously.

    Pred: doubtful: It couldn’t be… Stigmata of the Lord?
    determined: That doesn’t prove anything! As a false prophet, raw and bloody as you are, repent. Then the allmighty Lord in all His glory may forgive you for the sins of you and your kind.

    Prey throws up.

    Prey: Indeed I am only a small sinner, as are we all. But see the Lord has stuck me and my (retches) kind with the curse of blood so poisonous, it even poisons ourselves.

    Pred: I see. A very logical explanation for your throwing up. And consistent with the scripture, with my vicious God. Then live with your curse mere sinner and repent!

    Pred off

    Prey to himself: What luck that I get sick when they say “kind”…

  2. says

    My wife does that when I’m feeling romantic. It never works, though. I think it’s sexy.

  3. startlingmoniker says

    I’m a couple hundred pages into Dawkins’ “Ancestor’s Tale” right now… can’t wait to start meeting up with these guys! I gotta admit, it’s got me looking at animals in a different light. Like– “hi, cousin” LOL

  4. phoenixwoman says

    Speaking of predators, prey and vomit-inducing situations:

    When Pope Benedict XVI was archbishop of Munich and Freising, he was broadly described as a theologian more concerned with doctrinal debates than personnel matters. That, say his defenders, helps explain why he did not keep close tabs on a pedophile priest sent to his archdiocese in 1980 and allowed to work in a parish.

    Yet in 1979, the year before Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, approved the Rev. Peter Hullermann’s move to Munich, the cardinal blocked the assignment to the local university of a prominent theology professor recommended by the university senate. And in 1981, he punished a priest for holding a Mass at a peace demonstration, leading the man to ultimately leave the priesthood.


    As archbishop, Benedict expended more energy pursuing theological dissidents than sexual predators. Already in the early 1980s, one could catch a glimpse of a future pope preoccupied with combating any movement away from church tradition. Vatican experts say there is little evidence that Benedict spent much time investigating more than 200 cases of “problem priests” in the diocese, with issues including alcohol abuse, adultery and, now under the microscope, pedophilia.

    Ratzi was the main guy behind JPII’s sustained attack on liberation-theology priests in Latin America and elsewhere. He went to great lengths to root them out, even as the church was using the excuse of the worldwide priest shortage to explain why pedo priests weren’t being kicked out of the priesthood. (Maybe if he hadn’t gone after good priests like Hans Küng and Jacques Gaillot, the priest shortage wouldn’t be so bad.)

  5. Egaeus says

    I personally like the “thick, acrid pancake of dead and moribund crickets…” quote myself.

  6. ereador says

    They are, um, like, the vultures or komodo dragons of the insect world, like. The natural world is so gleefully disgusting, and I love it! (Who knows what I have eaten while drunk camping, sitting by the campfire in the dead of night.)

  7. Chris Hegarty says

    It doesn’t exactly look palatable in any sense, but I suppose that if I were starving I’d give it a whack. That is, until the whole “oozy toxic blood” shebang.

    Also, #5 gets it. Oh, and @#9: best phrasing ever: “The natural world is so gleefully disgusting”

    Chris Hegarty

  8. brianjordan says

    Sounds like a good line of research for creationist Prof Andy McIntosh, when he’s finished with mimicking the bombadier beetle’s antics.

  9. Mrs Tilton says

    Brownian @17,

    wow, you’re not kidding. As an aspiring but rather crap macrophotographer, I am in awe. In fact, as I type these words I am kowtowing all Wayne & Garth-like, chanting We are not worthy!

  10. llewelly says

    To become unpalatable, the insects squirt toxic blood out of gaps in their body and make themselves sick by throwing up food they’ve just eaten.

    If you’re quick you can crunch them up and swallow them before they accomplish this.

  11. Red John says

    the insects squirt toxic blood out of gaps in their body

    Sounds like the first step on the path to the acid blood of the Aliens.