Planet Earth has been holding out on us. Apparently, there’s a beetle that escapes certain death in the belly of a toad by shooting a toxic, 212-degree chemical mix from its butt, causing the toad to vomit, Gizmodo reports.
This stunning example of nature’s grossness comes courtesy of a study published Wednesday in Biology Letters. Back in 2016, researchers in Japan fed a bombardier beetle to a toad to see what would happen.
The result was shocking: The toad puked up the beetle 44 minutes after eating it, and the would-be meal walked away fine. The follow-up study published this week explains how that happened.
Bombardier beetles produce chemicals in their guts, including hydrogen peroxide and compounds that damage tissue, that they can use to ward off predators. They also have a hard shell to protect them from stomach acid for hours.
Researchers found 43% of toads puked up the beetles 12 to 107 minutes after eating them. “An explosion was audible inside each toad, which indicated that P. jessoensis ejected chemical spray after being swallowed,” AFP quotes the study as saying.
Fifteen of the beetles vomited up went on to live for at least two weeks; a 16th lived more than 18 months. (The toads were also fine after puking.) Researchers found smaller toads vomited up the beetles more frequently and larger beetles had a better chance at survival, showing “the importance of the prey-predator size relationship.”