View previous topic | View next topic


Page 1 of 5
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next

2234.  Thu Nov 27, 2003 12:55 pm Reply with quote

The Creator, if he exists, has a special preference for beetles.

Beetles are most successful group of animals on earth. Well over 300,000 species have been described – almost a third of all known species, and two-thirds of all the insects.

s: ERI

2236.  Thu Nov 27, 2003 1:34 pm Reply with quote

Beetles form the taxonomic Order Coleoptera.

The name was first coined by Aristotle and means "sheath-wings" (from the Greek koleon, a sheath or scabbard + pteron,a feather, or wing).

This is because the distinguishing characteristic of beetles is that they all have a pair of hardened rudimentary fore-wings called elytra which cover and protect their membraneous hind-wings when the insect is at rest.

When the beetle is in flight the elytra are held out of the way (but don't flap or help with the flying).

The word comes from the Greek elytron, a word for a different kind of sheath – specifically 'a spear-case', also used figuratively by Plato to mean 'the body as a case for the soul'.

s: ERI s:OED s:GEL

Last edited by JumpingJack on Thu Nov 27, 2003 3:21 pm; edited 1 time in total

2238.  Thu Nov 27, 2003 1:43 pm Reply with quote

Elytron, as the lexicographers and gynaecologists amongst you will know, is also another word for 'vagina'.

An elytroplasty is an operation for closing a 'fistulous opening'.


Squeamish persons look away now...

'the operation of closing a vesico-vaginal fistulous opening by borrowing a flap from the labia or nates'

Frederick The Monk
2263.  Thu Nov 27, 2003 3:34 pm Reply with quote

At last something about fistulas!

Now, I just happen to know that Louis XIV of France suffered from an anal fistula which he first reported to his doctors in the January of 1686. Refusing surgery he initially tried a poultice but this didn't seem to help and by the summer his fistula was the talk of the French court. Still refusing surgery Louis called on other sufferers to come forward and these volunteers were sent to various spas to take the waters in the hope of finding a cure, but still no luck.

Eventually the King agreed to surgery, something which left his personal surgeon a little nervous as
a/. you need a steady hand to operate on the King's un-anaesthetised bottom and
b/. he'd never done the operation before.
Like any good doctor would in this situation he decided to have a few practise goes first and the merry band of fistula volunteers were called back from their respective spas to go under the knife. After a few goes and a couple of unfortunate deaths the surgeon thought he'd got the hang of it so, on November 18th, 1686 the King dropped his drawers and assumed the position. Happy Day! The operation, performed in the presence of his mistress,chief minister and entire medical staff was a complete success and the surgeon was rewarded with an estate and a pot of cash. Only an hour after the operation the King was conducting state business from his bed. News spread quickly and the English diarist John Evelyn celebrated the event thus"

"[1687, January] 5 The French K. now sayd to be healed or rather patch’d up of the fistula in Ano, for which he had ben severall times cutt: etc. ].

Perhaps the strangest effect of this celebrated event was that the operation became 'fashionable' and 30 gentleman courtiers applied to the King's surgeon to undergo the same procedure despite not needing it.

I wonder if any modern celebrity lovers would show such dedication to their heroes.

s:Blanning - Joseph II and Enlightened Despotism
Ragnhild Hatton - Louis XIV & His World
Vincent Cronin - Louis XIV
Rule (ed.) - Louis XIV and the Craft of Kingship

2267.  Thu Nov 27, 2003 4:14 pm Reply with quote


A long sinuous ulcer – from the same word in Latin fistula, a pipe.

Usually, a lead pipe, for carrying water.

I accuse Col Mustard with the fistula in the conservatory.

Fistula was also the Latin for the blow-hole of a whale, a shoe-maker's punch, the pan-pipes and ....a long sinuous ulcer.

s: ALD

Last edited by JumpingJack on Thu Nov 27, 2003 4:16 pm; edited 2 times in total

2268.  Thu Nov 27, 2003 4:15 pm Reply with quote

Great story, btw, Fred.

2287.  Thu Nov 27, 2003 5:47 pm Reply with quote

But now back to the task in hand...

Beetles can be as much as eight inches long.

Large water beetles will attack and eat small fish.

Whirligig beetles, which swim on the surface of ponds, have divided eyes, one half for vision underwater, the other in air.

Screech beetles have gills, enabling them to remove oxygen directly from the water.

Deathwatch beetles attract mates by banging their heads repeatedly on the wooden floor of their homes.


Last edited by JumpingJack on Thu Nov 27, 2003 6:01 pm; edited 1 time in total

2289.  Thu Nov 27, 2003 5:56 pm Reply with quote

Fireflies and glow-worms are neither flies nor worms. They are beetles.

Glow-worms are female fireflies*.

The photoluminescent glow of fireflies and glow-worms can be switched on and off in a series of synchronized flashes.

Predatory glow-worms of the genus Photuris can mimic the signals of Photinus females, luring Photinus males to their doom.

*They are larva-like and wingless.


2290.  Thu Nov 27, 2003 6:03 pm Reply with quote

The Black-beetle (or cockroach) is not a beetle.

s: OED

2291.  Thu Nov 27, 2003 6:13 pm Reply with quote

The bombardier beetle is much-loved of creationist websites, as (creationists assume) the process is just too complex to have evolved, and thus the beetle is an example of 'design'.

The bombardier beetle and learned the beetle makes his explosives by mixing hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide. It adds a chemical inhibitor that prevents the other two chemicals from blowing up and enables the beetle to store them indefinitely.

Whenever the beetle is attacked it squirts the stored chemicals into its two combustion tubes, and adds an anti-inhibitor chemical. This knocks out the inhibitor, and a small but violent explosion occurs right in the face of the attacker.

Many people find this quite convincing, but unfortunately it is fairly straightforward to postulate an evolutionary mechanism for the bombardier beetle's particular talents, as laid out on the Talk Origins website:

Is this a bit too remote and/or contentious for a question do you think?

Why didn't bombardier beetles blow themselves up when they were evolving?

2293.  Thu Nov 27, 2003 6:25 pm Reply with quote

The site also seems to contradict your other sources, Jack:

Based on an admittedly sloppy translation of a 1961 article by Schildknecht and Holoubek, [Kofahl, 1981] Duane Gish claimed that hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinones would explode spontaneously if mixed without a chemical inhibitor, and that the beetle starts with a mix of all three and adds an anti-inhibitor when he wants the explosion. [Weber, 1981] In fact, the two do not explode when mixed, as others have demonstrated.

2300.  Thu Nov 27, 2003 6:48 pm Reply with quote

That was me, not Jack, Flash. The talkorigins website gives the reason why the bombardier beetle is not a good argument for creationists who argue that the beetles couldn't have evolved without blowing themselves up so they must have been created that way. I just wondered if it would make an interesting QI question or whether it required too much previous knowledge of what bombardier beetles do. I suppose a question about them could be introduced with some film of them in action.

2302.  Thu Nov 27, 2003 6:55 pm Reply with quote

Sorry, you looked like Jack in those galoshes. It's OK for the question to be impossible to answer, as long as it gives the panellists something to work with as improvisers.

2305.  Thu Nov 27, 2003 7:21 pm Reply with quote

<sends galoshes back to Lobbs>

2307.  Thu Nov 27, 2003 7:31 pm Reply with quote

Well over 300,000 species have been described; almost a third of all known species, and two-thirds of all the insects.

I was reading an interview with Martin Brendell, lead curator of Beetles at the Natural History Museum,London. He confirmed that there are now 450,000 described species but estimates that 'there will be definitely 1m beetles, probably 2m, possibly 5m, conceivably 10.'

Even so, since 1700, species have been discovered at a rate of one every six hours.

The NHM collection has 12m specimens - 2m not yet identified. It is probably the largest in the world - no one has counted the collection in Paris (tant pis) - with the higest proportion of holotypes - original examples against which all others have to be judged.

At present, each of the 12m specimens is being re-pinned. The original brass pins contain copper which can react with the fatty tissue of the beetle to produce verdigris. This produces gas which can build up inside the beetle until they explode. But do the math. At a rate of 20 beetles an hour, it's going to take 288 years to complete..

s: ST Magazine 7/4/02


Page 1 of 5
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next

All times are GMT - 5 Hours

Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group