This blog is a departure from what I usually write about, which is how we live in an apocalyptic ’B’ movie that nobody would believe if it wasn’t actually happening. This is my favorite kind of story. A story about survival. About cheating death. The ultimate great escape, with poop jokes. This is a story about …
Water Beetles. Specifically, the aquatic beetle Regimbartia attenuate.
A report came out this week from the journal Current Biology and I found it amazing. They found that this species of beetle has a rather unique way of surviving being eaten by the spotted frog. At this point you are probably wondering “Wait. How do you survive getting eaten by a frog? For that matter how do you survive getting eaten by anything?” I’ve always pretty much taken it for granted that once you get eaten, that’s it.
But not for these little guys. They figured it out. When they get eaten by a frog, these brave little dudes just run like hell until they get to the frog’s ass. They then exit the frog to live to be eaten another day.
HOW AWESOME IS THAT!!??
No, I am NOT making this up. I heard it on an episode of “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” I also looked it up. It’s real. The scientists found that 93% of the beetles ingested make a “back-door escape.” Apparently, their shape and tiny size helps them. That and the fact that the frogs swallows them whole. If they ever learned to chew, those little guys would be screwed. This got me to wondering. What do the frogs think about this.
FROG 1: Hey Frank.
FROG 2: Hey Gary.
FROG 1: I got a question.
FROG 2: Shoot.
FROG 1: You ever eat those little water beetles?
FROG 2: Hell yes. I love those things. I can eat them all day.
FROG 1: Yeah, me too. But every time I eat a bunch, an hour later I’m hungry again. That ever happen to you?
FROG 2: Yeah, all the time. It’s like Chinese food. You know if you eat nothing but water beetles for a week, you lose weight.
FROG 1: Really? Thanks. I have to try that. I’ve been putting on a few ounces.
It also got me to thinking about what the experience must be for the water beetles. What happens the first time a beetle gets swallowed? Do older more experienced beetles have to give younger beetles “The Talk?” What if an old beetle and a young beetle get swallowed together?
YOUNG BEETLE: AHHHHH! WHAT JUST HAPPENED??
OLD BEETLE: Oh fuck. Not again. Calm down dude. We just got eaten by a dark spotted frog.
YOUNG BEETLE: Eaten??? We got eaten!!!! You mean I’m dying??? AHHH!!
OLD BEETLE: Oh, for Christ’s sake, calm down. You’re not going to die. Just follow me and keep walking.
YOUNG BEETLE: How is this possible?? We just got eaten! Why are we still alive???
OLD BEETLE: Well, first off, we didn’t technically get “eaten.” We were swallowed whole.
YOUNG BEETLE: So what? We’re still in a frogs stomach!! How are we not going to die??
OLD BEETLE: Simple. We’re going to walk out.
YOUNG BEETLE: Walk out? You can do that?
OLD BEETLE: Yup. Turns out frogs have a back door.
YOUNG BEETLE: A what?
OLD BEETLE: An exit in the back of the frog. See that light up ahead? There it is. Keep walking.
YOUNG BEETLE: How do you know all this?
OLD BEETLE: It gets passed down from generation to generation. It was first discovered by an ancient beetle named Phil. He lived many thousands of years ago. Or maybe last month. We’re not very good with the concept of time.
YOUNG BEETLE: Ancient Phil? He must have been very brave.
OLD BEETLE: No, not really. He was coward. A total neurotic. He ran away from everything. They used to call him “Run Away Phil.”
YOUNG BEETLE: So how did he figure out how to escape?
OLD BEETLE: Dumb luck actually. Back then we all reacted like you did. We’d realize we just got swallowed by a frog and we’d just freak out and freeze in terror. Phil, on the other hand freaked out and did what he always did. He ran like hell. He kept running until he ran out the frog’s butt.
OLD BEETLE: Surprised the hell out of the beetles that saw him pop out. The rest is history. Oh, here’s the exit. After you.
The two beetles exit into the sunlight.
YOUNG BEETLE: Wow, that was intense.
OLD BEETLE: You get used to it. This is the third time I’ve gotten swallowed this week.
YOUNG BEETLE: Thanks for saving me.
OLD BEETLE: No problem dude. Just remember, don’t panic and just keep walking.
If only Jonah and Geppetto could have figured that out!