Intel have posted a twitter pic depicting a rhinoceros beetle carrying 8 ultrabooks (of an unrecognizable brand) with the tagline:

#FACT The Rhinoceros Beetle can lift up to 100x its own weight. That means it could carry 8 Ultrabooks on its back

This tweet appeared on Intel Australia/New Zealand's twitter feed, as well as appearing in other place.

enter image description here

Assuming that the beetle somehow ended up under a pile of ultrabooks, is it possible for the beetle to actually walk away with them, or to just not get crushed by them?

In other words, is it possible for a rhinoceros beetle to carry 8 ultrabooks?

  • Why the cowardly drive-by down-voting? Please provide a comment highlighting issues if you believe this question is unsuitable for this site. – Brian M. Hunt Apr 15 '13 at 19:08
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    @BrianM.Hunt Berating people for down-voting without comments isn't terribly productive, either, especially when some of those downvotes were likely cast before several edits were made to the question. Please note there is a related meta discussion. – Beofett Apr 15 '13 at 19:29
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    @Beofett: Au contraire! The posting of a comment on the history and link to the meta-discussion previously unbeknownst to readers, arising as a result of my berating, is decidedly productive in my humble (but correct) opinion. ;) There is also measurable benefit to highlighting and curbing anonymous negative social behaviour that has minimal impact on the actor (down-voting) but a significant chilling effect on recipient (frustration, exclusion, lack of appreciation) particularly in the absence of any constructive commentary. – Brian M. Hunt Apr 15 '13 at 19:58
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    @BrianM.Hunt My comment was directed more at the berating tone (i.e. the use of the word "cowardly"), than the general concept of requesting feedback. I thought twice about responding to you when I saw your comment, given the tone, but decided to highlight the existing discussion anyway. In other words, "Could anyone explain the downvotes?" would have been more productive than insulting everyone who had downvoted, thereby reducing the chance of an honest explanation. – Beofett Apr 15 '13 at 20:01
  • @Beofett: That's a fair point. Bearing in mind that Skeptics is not generating a healthy number of questions, here's AshRj asking his first question and receiving anonymous negative feedback from people who seemingly couldn't be bothered to let him know how better to participate. It would be ironic for those who drive-by down-vote to not have the skin to withstand a generalization. Though I appreciate your point about the effect, this is not healthy - it is a prejudice against novices, and gives the air of a clique. – Brian M. Hunt Apr 15 '13 at 20:41

Looking around on the internet, the claim is actually that the rhinoceros beetle can carry 850 times its own weight, not just 100 times its own weight. The type of rhinoceros beetle in question is the "Hercules beetle" (Dynastes hercules)

Adults of some species can lift objects 850 times their weight! That would be equivalent to a human lifting 9 fully grown male elephants!

One such claim

Compared to an elephant, the rhinoceros beetle looks minuscule. But ounce for ounce, this insect is considered the world's strongest creature Rhinoceros beetles, which get their name from the hornlike structure on a male's head, are capable of carrying up to 850 times their own body weight. A human with this relative strength would be able to lift some 65 tons (59 metric tons).

Another such claim

This sounds really crazy, what is it the beetles actually does, and how heavy things is it they have lifted?

Male Hercules beetles can be up to 17cm long, and weigh up to 120g. The species exhibits ‘sexual dimorphism’, which means that females and males are very different in appearance. For a long time, scientists thought that they were actually separate species; only the males have horns (which make up to half of their body length). These horns are used to fight other males, burrow into wood and move obstacles (like sticks, rocks and small logs) out of its way.

Weight of the beetle

The beetle seems to push around rocks, sticks and logs using its large horns. The beetle's weight is in other words 120g, and can lift things 850 times its own weight. 0.12kg * 850 = 102 kg. The beetle have apparently been shown to lift things weighting 102 kilos. This sounds pretty fantastic. How have those tests been done? Did the beetle really just grab a 102 kilo rock, and move it about?

Youtube link

In the video, it shows the tests done by scientists in University of California, Berkeley, CA. And the beetle was shown to carry 100 times its own weight ON ITS BACK. The video says they tested that.

Details about the tests can be found in the paper "INEXPENSIVE LOAD CARRYING BY RHINOCEROS BEETLES" from 1995, from Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA.

There they tested how much the beetles energy consumption changed with carrying 30 times its body weight. And in the paper it's depicted the tests shown in the youtube video as well. The beetle could move pretty much unhindered with 30 times its weight. The paper didn't say anything about 100 times it's weight, but it wasn't completely related to the topic. Where the number 850 times its weight comes from that is the question.

Females of the species will dig a tunnel into a pile of dung and males will enter the tunnel looking to mate. If a male encounters another male in the tunnel they will battle each other, each trying to remove the other. The scientists tested the beetle's ability to resist rivals by measuring how much weight was needed to pull a male beetle out of his hole. That's how they know that it would take 1,141 other beetles to pull a determined male dung beetle out of 'love tunnel'.

Idea to where that idea might come from

Probably a similar test was done to the Hercules beetle. That means the 850 times number is not for amount it carries on its back, but how strong it is.

Yes the beetle can carry 100 times its weight, on its back

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    If beetles could lift 102kg, they would have overthrown the human society already. – SirDuckduck Apr 16 '13 at 14:32
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    They are too busy fighting each other over the women to overthrow human society. I have seen numbers that claims humans can do 15-20 times their weights. You land on like 1000kg+ then. – Wertilq Apr 16 '13 at 15:08
  • The weight multiplicity between this piece of wheat and a microphone must be enormous: youtube.com/watch?v=qNtVnXA3rMg&t=0m3s – user41893 Oct 30 '17 at 20:25

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