Could any creatures blow fire like a dragon?
Out of its mouth? No. Out of its backside? Yes! Well, almost.
There are no fire-breathing dragons, but there is the bombardier beetle, which ejects a hot, fiery mixture from its butt when threatened. The spray is produced by the reaction between two chemicals; hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide, which are stored in separate abdominal compartments before coming together with a bang.
The resulting heat brings the mixture to almost 100°C and produces gas which drives the expulsion. This means that if a bombardier beetle gets eaten by a toad, it can literally fart its way out of trouble. It lets rip inside the amphibian’s belly until the predator vomits it up.
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Asked by: Pad Scanlon, via email
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- This article first appeared in issue 374 of BBC Science Focus Magazine – find out how to subscribe here
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