Monday 30 April 2012

Thought for the Day - Thank the Lord for dead-end tracheal tubes

‎"When one considers their boldness, their fecundity... and, above all, their unquestioning loyalty to their own kind, one is left thinking it is a good job that ants are not larger."
 ~ George Orwell (1903-50)

Scientists have long wondered why giant bugs don't exist today. Unlike animals with backbones, insects deliver oxygen to their tissues directly and bloodlessly through a network of dead-end tracheal tubes. In bigger insects, this mode of oxygen transport becomes less efficient. In other words, a bottleneck occurs in insects' air pipes as they become humongous.

250 million years ago, in the Paleozoic Era, insects were able to overcome this bottleneck due to the Earth having a higher-oxygen atmosphere, and so there were dragonflies the size of hawks and millipedes longer than a human leg. But not today - thank God.

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