Researchers have staged stag beetle battles to solve the mystery of how the male beetles bite so hard.
The extreme length of the beetles' jaws should make it difficult for them to produce a forceful bite.
As well as measuring the bite forces that the beetles could produce, the scientists, from Antwerp University, filmed stag beetle fights to assess their biting power.
The findings are reported in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
Stag beetles do not use their impressive jaws to eat, as you might expect, but rather to attract females and to fight and wrestle with other males over territory.
"They seem very ferocious," Jana Goyens, from the University of Antwerp, who led the study, told BBC News.
"But long [jaws] should not be very efficient when it comes to transferring very large bite forces – it would seem from a mechanical point of view that they would not bite forcefully."
This is because the force generated by muscles in the beetle's head has to be transferred down to the end of each jaw, or mandible. So, just like a very long lever, the force has to work over a long distance.
You can experience this rule of mechanics with your own body.
If you hold your arms straight out in front of you and press your hands together, it is difficult to produce a great deal of force. But if you bring your hands in close to your chest, you can push your palms together with much more force.
Written By: Victoria Gill
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