The Topology of the Leg Joints of the Beetle Pachnoda marginata (Scarabaeidae, Cetoniinae) and Its Implication for the Tribological Properties
Locomotion of walking insects is exceptionally efficient. The function of their leg joints in different movement scenarios depends on their kinematics and contacting conditions between moving parts. The kinematics was previously studied in some insects, but contact mechanics within the joints remains largely unknown. In order to understand the complex topology of the contacting surfaces of the leg joints in the Congo rose beetle Pachnoda marginata peregrina (Scarabaeidae, Cetoniinae), we have investigated the shape, the waviness, and the roughness of the joint base and its counter body by applying confocal laser scanning microscopy and white light interferometry. Additionally, we performed nanoindentation tests on the contacting joint surfaces, in order to analyze material properties (elasticity modulus and hardness) of the joint cuticle. We found two topological design principles of the contact surfaces that might be considered as adaptations for reducing frictional drag during leg movements. First, the contact pairs of all leg joints studied consist of convex and concave counterparts. Second, there is a smooth and a rough surface in contact in which microprotuberances are present on the rough surface. These principles might be potentially interesting for technical implications, to design bioinspired joints with both reduced friction and wear rate.