Y. Matsumura et al., Sci. Adv. 2017, 3, 12; eaao5469

Scientists are studying a beetle’s penis … to improve catheter design

Catheters and beetle penises have a common problem: finding a way into complicated spaces without breaking or collapsing. Now, thanks to the thistle tortoise beetle, scientists may have a solution for the medical devices. The bug’s penis, which is longer than its body, is stiffer at its base while softer at its tip. That’s the conclusion of a new study published in Science Advances that examined the insect’s genitalia by pushing on it to see how far it bends. The findings help researchers understand how the beetle manages to make love without breaking itself, but could also improve the design of medical devices such as catheters, which can lead to complications from inexact tip placement and line buckling, NPR reports.

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