Image: Amy, Flickr

The dung beetle can lift more than 1,000 times its body weight — as a result of its sexual interactions.

Onthophagus taurus is a member of the dung beetle species that grows to less than half an inch in length and occupies desert, forest, and grassland environments all over the world. They are reputed for burying large amounts of their exclusive diet of dung balls — in amounts 250 times heavier than themselves on a daily basis.

Research recently published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B concludes that this insect is the strongest animal on the planet, capable of lifting 1,140 times its own body weight.

Image: Bernard Dupont, Flickr

The most astounding aspect of this discovery, however, is that this amazing strength is correlated with the beetle’s natural sexual activity. Dr. Rob Knell out of the University of London extensively studied beetle mating behavior, concluding, “Female beetles of this species dig tunnels under a dung pat, where males mate with them. If a male enters a tunnel that is already occupied by a rival, they fight by locking horns and try to push each other out.”

The dung beetle’s strength-to-weight ratio is the primary physical property attributed to their unprecedented abilities. Larger animals have larger muscles but more of their strength is needed to support their own body weight. The lesser mass of insects, such as dung beetles, allows them to devote the majority of their strength to moving additional weight.

Dr. Knell concluded that he was ‘pretty confident’ that the dung beetle was the world’s strongest insect.