A weightlifting champion

Of birds, birdies and biryanis

We have all heard this one about ants – that they can lift more than 50 times their body-weight, equivalent to an average human being lifting about 3000 kgs or so. The Dung Beetle, apparently, takes this metric to a different level.

How do these super-weightlifters manage this? To understand this we start with 2 basic measures – volume and surface area – and try and get our heads around the correlation between these in the context of this particular comparison. The weight of any organism is related to its volume – for the sake of simplicity I am ignoring the impact of density on this maths. The strength of a muscle, however, is proportional to the surface area of its cross-section.  And you would all know that surface area is a two-dimensional measurement as opposed to volume which is a three-dimensional measurement.  Hence, there tends to be a multiplicative correlation…

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