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(MSNBC)   NBC news asked the questions everyone but mad scientists are afraid to ask. Why aren't insects human sized?   ( divider line
    More: Misc, NBC News, insects, arthropods, exoskeletons, dragonflies  
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3569 clicks; posted to Geek » on 19 Oct 2012 at 11:43 PM (5 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2012-10-19 08:23:47 PM  
3 votes:
Not enough available oxygen. Jeez.
2012-10-19 11:56:48 PM  
2 votes:
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.
2012-10-21 03:15:10 AM  
1 vote:
Insects are the most successful animals ever to exist on earth. They do just fine without lungs.
2012-10-20 09:02:25 PM  
1 vote:
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 01:59:28 PM  
1 vote:
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 12:07:41 AM  
1 vote:
pics.imcdb.orgView Full Size

This movie is so bad I was crying with laughter when I watched it.
2012-10-19 11:27:40 PM  
1 vote:
There was the carboniferous period with Arthropleura. Oxygen seems like it.


t1.gstatic.comView Full Size
2012-10-19 10:52:25 PM  
1 vote:

Sgygus: simplicimus: Not enough available oxygen.

Bugs ain't got no lungs.

2012-10-19 10:07:56 PM  
1 vote:
simplicimus: Not enough available oxygen.

Bugs ain't got no lungs.
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2012-10-19 08:50:31 PM  
1 vote:
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.)
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