We now know that cockroaches are responsible for a common respiratory ailment and that they are resistant to radiation (meaning that if an atomic bomb went off, we’d be gone but the roaches would still be in our kitchen). But did you know that there are 4,500 known species of roach and probably two or three times that many that have not yet been discovered?

Actually, the idea that roaches are resistant to radiation may be an urban myth: a direct nuclear blast would incinerate a cockroach. Cockroach expert (yes, there is such a thing) George Beccaloni says, “People think that cockroaches are the only creatures that could survive nuclear war. That’s not actually true. They certainly are much more resistant than humans but far less resistant than many other insects.” But they CAN live several days after being decapitated.

In LiveScience.com, Robin Lloyd insists that only 1% of cockroach species are household pests. The world’s heaviest cockroach?the Australian rhinoceros cockroach, which weighs as much as 1 ounce?is (thankfully) not one of them. We should be glad that bugs are not as big as they were 250 million years ago, when millipedes longer than a human leg roamed the earth.

Why don’t insects get that big today? It has to do with respiratory restrictions?the air in the Paleozoic Era had a higher concentration of oxygen, making it easier for bugs to breathe.

Art credit: gimp-savvy.com

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