Beetle inspires bushfire spotting technology, according to a report in ScienceNOW 10 Aug 2004. The jewel beetle Melanophila acuminate can detect heat from forest fires that are many kilometres away with tiny discs under its wings that absorb infra-red radiation and swell up, setting off mechanoreceptors that signal to the beetle’s brain. Beetles lay their eggs in the smouldering bark of burnt trees after a fire. The heat detectors are most sensitive to radiation at 3 micrometres – the wavelength strongly emitted by a forest fire. Scientists at the University of Bonn, Germany have invented and patented an artificial sensor made of polythene plates that works in the same way as the beetle sensors. They hope to develop it into a cheap reliable device for early warning of wild fires.
Editorial Comment: The German scientists were able to patent their invention because it is recognised as the product of intelligent design and engineering. The same recognition should be given to the jewel beetle, which had the device first, because it was created by a smarter Designer.