Evolution has allowed animals to come up with some pretty extraordinary ways to escape from predators, but none as bizarre as the Asian Bombardier beetle.
Even after they have been swallowed, the game isn’t up for the beetle, as they are able to eject a hot chemical cocktail inside the stomachs of their captor.
Researchers knew this happened, but hadn’t previously captured on film the process of the toad vomiting and the beetle walking back out of their mouth, completely unscathed.
The team of researchers, whose work is published in Biology Letters, collected Japanese common toads and Japanese stream toads from forests in Japan and took them back to the laboratory.
They fed the beetles to the (unsuspecting) toads, and after a few minutes they heard what sounded like an explosion inside their stomachs.
Then, in nearly half of all cases - 43% of the beetles - were able to escape by walking up the toad’s throat. Even after some had bathed in the toad’s stomach juices for more than an hour.
“The escape behaviour surprised us,” said Shinji Sugiura, an agricultural scientist who performed the studies with Takuya Sato at Kobe University.
The team found that the chemical mixture - hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinones mixed to produce an explosion of benzoquinone irritant - was the key to survival,
As those beetles which had been pre-treated and therefore used up almost all of their chemical supply, only 5% survived the ordeal.