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(MSNBC)   NBC news asked the questions everyone but mad scientists are afraid to ask. Why aren't insects human sized?   (msnbc.msn.com) divider line 72
    More: Misc, NBC News, insects, arthropods, exoskeletons, dragonflies  
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3540 clicks; posted to Geek » on 19 Oct 2012 at 11:43 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



72 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2012-10-19 08:23:47 PM
Not enough available oxygen. Jeez.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2012-10-19 08:50:31 PM
In my day dissecting frogs was the pinnacle of high school biology. A generation later students could make glowing frogs. In 2030 school children will be designing and growing eight foot tall giant ants for the stage version of Them.  (Yes, feet, the U.S. will stand alone as metric deniers.)
 
2012-10-19 10:03:27 PM

ZAZ: In my day dissecting frogs was the pinnacle of high school biology. A generation later students could make glowing frogs. In 2030 school children will be designing and growing eight foot tall giant ants for the stage version of Them.  (Yes, feet, the U.S. will stand alone as metric deniers.)


in my day... the frog was the lead up to the pig fetus... which some of us jackasses in class used the small intestine as a jump rope... I wanna say this was about... 1991-2?
 
2012-10-19 10:07:56 PM
simplicimus: Not enough available oxygen.

Bugs ain't got no lungs.
 
2012-10-19 10:52:25 PM

Sgygus: simplicimus: Not enough available oxygen.

Bugs ain't got no lungs.


Precisely.
 
2012-10-19 11:27:40 PM
There was the carboniferous period with Arthropleura. Oxygen seems like it.

Link

t1.gstatic.com
 
2012-10-19 11:49:27 PM
I thought it was because the weight of their carapaces would crush them?

/dnrtfa
 
2012-10-19 11:53:03 PM

Makh: There was the carboniferous period with Arthropleura. Oxygen seems like it.

Link

[t1.gstatic.com image 259x194]


great, now how am I supposed to sleep tonight.
 
2012-10-19 11:54:39 PM
Square-cube law: How the fark does it work?
 
2012-10-19 11:56:48 PM
To be specific the cube-square law in relation to their trachea. They get too big and the trachea can not take in enough oxygen to keep up cellular respiration.
/Thank God.
 
2012-10-19 11:58:43 PM
They would just collapse under their own weight. This is a good thing. I would not want to live in a world where a bug could crush me.
 
2012-10-20 12:07:41 AM
pics.imcdb.org

This movie is so bad I was crying with laughter when I watched it.
 
2012-10-20 12:08:00 AM

thatboyoverthere: To be specific the cube-square law in relation to their trachea. They get too big and the trachea can not take in enough oxygen to keep up cellular respiration.
/Thank God.


Basically, 1: Their legs would not be strong enough to hold their weight. 2: Those with wings certainly would not be able to fly, and 3: their lungs would not be big enough to service their now giant bodies.
 
2012-10-20 12:12:12 AM

Makh: There was the carboniferous period with Arthropleura. Oxygen seems like it.

Link

[t1.gstatic.com image 259x194]


GAHHHHH!

/ GAHHHHH!
// GAHHHHH!
 
2012-10-20 12:14:06 AM
1.bp.blogspot.com
1.bp.blogspot.com
 
2012-10-20 12:20:50 AM
I guess there's nothing else for NBC to run coverage on, these days.
 
2012-10-20 12:25:46 AM
Here's something fun to consider. If we ever have space stations, or build outposts on lower gravity planets we will no doubt bring some common pests along with us. We always do. Rats? Cockroaches? These critters breed fast, and in lower gravity they can grow MUCH MUCH larger...

Exterminators will need body armor. And you wouldn't want to meet a roach on your way to the fridge, or on its way to your fridge.

Remember clockspider? Pleasant dreams y'all
 
2012-10-20 12:31:42 AM
Ants as big as humans? "I'm not willing to say it couldn't happen there aren't a few in the garage right now"
 
2012-10-20 12:34:27 AM

ZAZ: In my day dissecting frogs was the pinnacle of high school biology. A generation later students could make glowing frogs. In 2030 school children will be designing and growing eight foot tall giant ants for the stage version of Them.  (Yes, feet, the U.S. will stand alone as metric deniers.)


www.texturemonkey.com

On it
 
2012-10-20 12:38:06 AM

simplicimus: Not enough available oxygen. Jeez.


photo.goodreads.com
 
2012-10-20 12:42:20 AM

tinyarena: Here's something fun to consider. If we ever have space stations, or build outposts on lower gravity planets we will no doubt bring some common pests along with us. We always do. Rats? Cockroaches? These critters breed fast, and in lower gravity they can grow MUCH MUCH larger...
Exterminators will need body armor. And you wouldn't want to meet a roach on your way to the fridge, or on its way to your fridge.
Remember clockspider? Pleasant dreams y'all


Don't let the bedbugs bite!

msnbcmedia.msn.com
 
2012-10-20 12:45:22 AM
Who farking cares? Bring back Community.
 
2012-10-20 12:47:56 AM
Articles like that remind me why I freakin' love science. I had no idea that the earth had that much more oxygen, resulting in gigantic bugs. That is so COOL.

/what does that make me?
//a big damn nerd
///ain't i just
 
2012-10-20 12:51:39 AM
Because if we were human sized, we'd give each a dozen assault rifles and train them to kill.
 
2012-10-20 12:52:16 AM

gadian: Because if we were human sized, we'd give each a dozen assault rifles and train them to kill.


If THEY were human sized. I'm not suggesting that we farkers are insects
 
2012-10-20 01:00:10 AM
Republican climate deniers will point out this is why more CO2 and less oxygen in our air is a GOOD thing - it raises corporate profits while preventing giant bug growth.
 
2012-10-20 01:40:28 AM

Plant Rights Activist: Makh: There was the carboniferous period with Arthropleura. Oxygen seems like it.

Link

[t1.gstatic.com image 259x194]

great, now how am I supposed to sleep tonight.


jaytkay: Makh: There was the carboniferous period with Arthropleura. Oxygen seems like it.

Link

[t1.gstatic.com image 259x194]

GAHHHHH!

/ GAHHHHH!
// GAHHHHH!


4.bp.blogspot.com
 
2012-10-20 01:47:50 AM
i1127.photobucket.com
 
2012-10-20 02:02:26 AM

IlGreven: Square-cube law: How the fark does it work?


I don't know, citizen

img.photobucket.com
 
2012-10-20 02:10:09 AM

jaytkay: [1.bp.blogspot.com image 611x330]
[1.bp.blogspot.com image 616x328]


"Matinee" is one of my favorite cheesy movies.
 
2012-10-20 02:56:29 AM
Came for Kent Brockman reference. Leaving disappointed.
 
2012-10-20 03:23:53 AM
Kent Brockman reference.

There you go, Miss Stein. You don't have to leave now.
 
2012-10-20 03:25:49 AM
There are bound to be some in the Australian outback or South American rainforests. Everything conceivably poisonous or creepy lives in one or the other.
 
2012-10-20 03:34:09 AM

Contents Under Pressure: Articles like that remind me why I freakin' love science. I had no idea that the earth had that much more oxygen, resulting in gigantic bugs. That is so COOL.

/what does that make me?
//a big damn nerd
///ain't i just


Geez, you didn't know that? You need to watch more Science Channel. Oh, wait, they just show reality TV now, don't they?
 
2012-10-20 03:49:42 AM

WorldCitizen: Contents Under Pressure: Articles like that remind me why I freakin' love science. I had no idea that the earth had that much more oxygen, resulting in gigantic bugs. That is so COOL.

/what does that make me?
//a big damn nerd
///ain't i just

Geez, you didn't know that? You need to watch more Science Channel. Oh, wait, they just show reality TV now, don't they?



It's ok he can just watch The Learning Channel...oh wait that is also reality tv. Discove...fark reality tv...
 
2012-10-20 03:58:10 AM

Gordon Bennett: There are bound to be some in the Australian outback or South American rainforests. Everything conceivably poisonous or creepy lives in one or the other.


I'd put my money on Australia. It seems like every living thing on that continent was created to kill something else.
 
2012-10-20 03:59:03 AM
Normal Person: Because evolution, duh.

Mad/curious scientist: Is that a challenge, biatches?
 
2012-10-20 05:25:53 AM
Because insects breathe with tracea, subby, and those just can't suck in enough oxygen to support larger bodies. Bugs were bigger back when there was more oxygen in the atmosphere.
 
2012-10-20 05:29:32 AM

IlGreven: Basically, 1: Their legs would not be strong enough to hold their weight.


They'd evolve thicker legs (just like the elephants did when they got big).

2: Those with wings certainly would not be able to fly,

This:

upload.wikimedia.org

...does not need to fly.

and 3: their lungs would not be big enough to service their now giant bodies.

Trachea, but yes.
 
2012-10-20 05:38:02 AM
The bugs on land, sure...


What about the bugs underwater?


3.bp.blogspot.com
 
2012-10-20 06:16:42 AM

Uncle Tractor: IlGreven: Basically, 1: Their legs would not be strong enough to hold their weight.

They'd evolve thicker legs (just like the elephants did when they got big).

2: Those with wings certainly would not be able to fly,

This:



...does not need to fly.

and 3: their lungs would not be big enough to service their now giant bodies.

Trachea, but yes.


An exoskeleton also makes growing in size a lot less convenient.

We don't have to periodically shed our bones to grow new ones. It tends to give smaller critters an advantage because they get more support from less exoskeleton.

/like the mites who live in your eyebrows.
 
2012-10-20 06:16:44 AM
4.bp.blogspot.com
 
2012-10-20 06:34:30 AM

simplicimus: Not enough available oxygen. Jeez.


Like duh-uh!
 
2012-10-20 06:47:16 AM

Animatronik: Uncle Tractor: IlGreven: Basically, 1: Their legs would not be strong enough to hold their weight.

They'd evolve thicker legs (just like the elephants did when they got big).

2: Those with wings certainly would not be able to fly,

This:



...does not need to fly.

and 3: their lungs would not be big enough to service their now giant bodies.

Trachea, but yes.

An exoskeleton also makes growing in size a lot less convenient.

We don't have to periodically shed our bones to grow new ones. It tends to give smaller critters an advantage because they get more support from less exoskeleton.

/like the mites who live in your eyebrows.


To add some detail:

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/_0_0/constraint_09
 
2012-10-20 07:40:42 AM
www.chamberofreviews.com
 
2012-10-20 08:06:45 AM
"I think he is signing AAHHHH!" -Tom Servo

That is why

/obscure to all but the most cultures farkers
 
2012-10-20 08:08:03 AM

Maximum Snark: "I think he is signing AAHHHH!" -Tom Servo

That is why

/obscure to all but the most cultures farkers


*cultured

Damn phone
 
2012-10-20 08:16:02 AM
I hate this thread. Why did I come in here?
 
2012-10-20 08:17:19 AM
I'd also stick with the oxygen as a constraint.

Of course, the question is why didn't insects just evolve a way around it. Moving past tracheal passages and developing lungs or some other mechanism to get more oxygen from the air.
The only solution I can think of is the arrival of vertebrates and their higher intelligence.
A larger insect has longer periods of vulnerability when it molts, and with vertebrates around there isn't much room for insects to evolve size wise.

They'd be better off going for numbers.
 
2012-10-20 08:25:20 AM

wippit: The bugs on land, sure...


What about the bugs underwater?


[3.bp.blogspot.com image 470x353]


Holy crap! I'll start melting some butter.
 
2012-10-20 08:32:38 AM

Maximum Snark: "I think he is signing AAHHHH!" -Tom Servo

That is why

/obscure to all but the most cultures farkers


That's not as obscure as you might think.
 
2012-10-20 08:36:31 AM

Cerebral Knievel: ZAZ: In my day dissecting frogs was the pinnacle of high school biology. A generation later students could make glowing frogs. In 2030 school children will be designing and growing eight foot tall giant ants for the stage version of Them.  (Yes, feet, the U.S. will stand alone as metric deniers.)

in my day... the frog was the lead up to the pig fetus... which some of us jackasses in class used the small intestine as a jump rope... I wanna say this was about... 1991-2?


We dissected about 20 different animals in my 7th or 8th grade science class. Birds, frogs, fish, squid, cats... I can't even remember half of them.
 
2012-10-20 08:42:23 AM

Animatronik: An exoskeleton also makes growing in size a lot less convenient.

We don't have to periodically shed our bones to grow new ones. It tends to give smaller critters an advantage because they get more support from less exoskeleton.


Well, arthropods have reached some fairly impressive sizes in the past, and then there's these guys here:

upload.wikimedia.org

The whole exoskeleton thing doesn't seem to be that big a burden, as long as the bug has a safe place to molt. What I wonder about is why no arthropod has evolved a way to get around the breathing thing.

Guess I know what I'll do when home DNA engineering kits come on the market... ;)

/like the mites who live in your eyebrows.

Actually, that never bothered me. 90% of the cells i our bodies aren't human, after all, so a few mites extra doesn't really matter. If you're looking for gross-out factor, my I suggest going to youtube and typing "black white head nose 3"? ;)
 
2012-10-20 08:57:29 AM
jaytkay:
1.bp.blogspot.com

It begs, begs for a caption.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2012-10-20 09:33:32 AM
No Such Agency: It begs, begs for a caption.

1.bp.blogspot.com
"You're not my real parents!"
 
2012-10-20 10:08:18 AM

Fano: ZAZ: In my day dissecting frogs was the pinnacle of high school biology. A generation later students could make glowing frogs. In 2030 school children will be designing and growing eight foot tall giant ants for the stage version of Them.  (Yes, feet, the U.S. will stand alone as metric deniers.)



On it


Blaster Master!
 
2012-10-20 10:43:06 AM

IlGreven: thatboyoverthere: To be specific the cube-square law in relation to their trachea. They get too big and the trachea can not take in enough oxygen to keep up cellular respiration.
/Thank God.

Basically, 1: Their legs would not be strong enough to hold their weight. 2: Those with wings certainly would not be able to fly, and 3: their lungs would not be big enough to service their now giant bodies.


bcibcrypto.files.wordpress.com

Looks larger than a human baby.

/close enough for government work
 
2012-10-20 10:58:28 AM
1.bp.blogspot.com
"I learned it from you!"

Also, why is our scientists afraid to ask? Why are not humans insect sized? Imagine the sudden wealth of resources and low, low, low carbon footprint.
 
2012-10-20 10:59:40 AM
they are.

just look at the Republican party.

to support some of the dribble those clowns support proves the party is full of insects.
 
2012-10-20 01:47:57 PM

Sgygus: Kent Brockman reference.

There you go, Miss Stein. You don't have to leave now.


I love you.
 
2012-10-20 01:59:28 PM
Fark article: scientist aren't really sure why insects are small.

Farkers in thread: here's the exact unrefutable reason insects are small.
 
2012-10-20 02:04:31 PM
Why are we even asking this question? Can't we just be happy that they AREN'T human-sized and leave it at that?
 
2012-10-20 02:33:13 PM
Earth Defense Force killed all the giant ones.
 
2012-10-20 08:23:48 PM
If the only criteria involves the hard-shell exoskeleton, then most of these statements about big bugs being impossible are misguided.

If big-insect lung and circulatory systems would be needed, that can be added through evolution or genetic engineering. It's not as if all other animals with complex respiratory and circulatory systems just sprung forth with it one day fully developed*, and the same can be said for evolved huge insects.

Exoskeleton weight is not really a problem. The solution is basically something we humans do already with surfboards: produce a hardened but thin exterior shell over the top of a rigid air-foamed core. 

* I'm not a creationist.
 
2012-10-20 09:02:25 PM
way south
Of course, the question is why didn't insects just evolve a way around it. Moving past tracheal passages and developing lungs or some other mechanism to get more oxygen from the air.

AFAIK, tracheal passages are not a precursor to lungs. They are evolutionarily unrelated structures that merely provide a similar function. There is zero reason for bugs to abandon a perfectly good respiratory system in favor of a long and costly development process that may not even work out.

That is,

1) Bugs are everywhere and appear to be doing just fine. Any lung developments would need to provide a very significant advantage in order for them to be competitive with other bugs. Size is not a significant advantage, as (for example) ants are fairly primitive yet still manage to outnumber us by mass.

2) Tracheae work just fine. The bugs would need to be much larger for there to be an advantage to lungs. As noted above, size does not really limit propagation of a species, merely individuals. This one's a bit of a catch22.

3) Replacing tracheae with lungs would be significantly more difficult (i.e. nearly impossible) than just having evolved lungs in the first place. You need to remove something that works and replace it with something that won't work as well for many hundreds of thousands of years (or ever). You might as well ask why humans haven't evolved beyond our basal ganglia.

4) I imagine there are some engineering problems as well. Can bugs arbitrarily increase their volume to accomodate large amounts of inhaled air? Adapting to full lungs might make their exoskeletons useless.
 
2012-10-20 11:30:57 PM

Wasilla Hillbilly: [1.bp.blogspot.com image 616x328]
"I learned it from you!"

Also, why is our scientists afraid to ask? Why are not humans insect sized? Imagine the sudden wealth of resources and low, low, low carbon footprint.


It's always THEM! - never US?
 
2012-10-21 12:31:42 AM
(Yes, feet, the U.S. will stand alone as metric deniers.)

why do you hate America?
 
2012-10-21 03:15:10 AM
Insects are the most successful animals ever to exist on earth. They do just fine without lungs.
 
2012-10-21 05:23:40 AM

falkone32: 3) Replacing tracheae with lungs would be significantly more difficult (i.e. nearly impossible) than just having evolved lungs in the first place. You need to remove something that works and replace it with something that won't work as well for many hundreds of thousands of years (or ever). You might as well ask why humans haven't evolved beyond our basal ganglia.


You wouldn't have to replace the trachea. Instead, let them form a loop, add some valves and a pump (or just let them contract), and you have a continuous flow of air. Also, many spiders have lungs *and* trachea.

But as noted elsewhere in this thread, insects are doing fine.
 
2012-10-21 05:24:19 AM

chatikh: Insects are the most successful animals ever to exist on earth. They do just fine without lungs.


I want a doberman-sized pet mantis.
 
2012-10-21 01:14:22 PM
Don't some spiders have a 'book-lung'?
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2012-10-21 01:36:22 PM
Don't some spiders have a 'book-lung'?

That's the term for the standard spider lung, but there is no homologous structure in insects. Or if there is it isn't used for anything analagous.

If you're interested in what goes on inside a spider, read Biology of Spiders by Rainer Foelix. But only if looking at slide preparations of bug guts is your thing.  It's not a "oh look how cute they are" kind of book (despite the cover).
 
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