Thomas Hörnschemeyer, Jake Bond, Philippe G. Young
Journal of Insect Science 13 (126), 1-14, (1 November 2013) https://doi.org/10.1673/031.013.12601
KEYWORDS: Coleoptera, Cupedidae, feeding, finite element analysis, high-resolution X-ray tomography, mandible mechanics, mandible stress, scanning electron microscopy
With the help of scanning electron microscopy, high resolution X-ray tomography (µCT), and finite element analysis, the mechanical and functional properties of the mandibles and associated muscles of the beetle Priacma serrata (LeConte) (Coleoptera: Archostemata) were studied. The combination of these techniques allowed for studying mechanical properties of the headmandible- system without using living animals. The µCT analysis delivered precise volumetric data of the geometry of the system to be studied. Dimensions of the cuticle of the parts involved could be readily deduced from the µCT-data. Thus, an exact representation of the specimen without significant artifacts like deformations and misalignments, usually resulting from histological sectioning, could be reconstructed. A virtual 3D model built from these data allowed for investigating different stress scenarios with finite element analysis. Combining these methods showed that P. serrata most likely uses its robustly-built mandibles for cutting hard material. In combination with available information on its habitat, possible food sources are discussed.