What is a Disadvantage of having an Exoskeleton?

What is the Disadvantage of having an Exoskeleton? What if Humans had an Exoskeleton? Do Exoskeletons decompose? Why can’t Exoskeletons grow?

An exoskeleton is seen in invertebrate animals which is an external covering of the skeleton that supports and protects the body. This article will offer a glimpse of the advantages and disadvantages of having an exoskeleton. We will discuss various invertebrate animals that protect themselves with a natural exoskeleton. So, let’s take a look at some of the most important questions, such as what is a disadvantage of having an exoskeleton and what if humans had an exoskeleton? Read on for more information.

1. What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of an Endoskeleton?

The benefits of an endoskeleton include robust weight-bearing characteristics and even growth, while the negatives include reduced muscle protection and leverage. Also, because of their better weight support, endoskeletons are typically seen in larger animals, while exoskeletons might restrict growth due to weight.

In contrast to an exoskeleton, which refers to an exterior skeleton, an endoskeleton refers to an internal skeleton. An endoskeleton can carry more weight because it is inside, which prevents the organism from being too burdened. There will eventually be a size limit since an exoskeleton will become too heavy for an organism to carry around.

So, what is a disadvantage of having an exoskeleton? Additionally, the exoskeleton must be regularly shed since it is stiff and does not develop, whereas the endoskeleton can expand along with the organism. A major disadvantage of an endoskeleton is that it provides minimal protection to the organism because it is inside and covered by muscles and tissues. Moreover, there are fewer rigid places for muscles to pull against, which reduces leverage. (See Number of Bones in Human Body Male vs Female)

2. Why don’t you have an Exoskeleton?

Animals like turtles and tortoises have exoskeletons, which are their outer shells. These crustaceans, such as crabs, lobsters, shrimp, hermit crabs, crawfish, and some other prehistoric giant insects, were born with exoskeletons. However, we humans have evolved with endoskeletons. Humans evolved from tiny fish in lakes, ponds, and oceans to reptiles, amphibians, and, finally, mammals. Our closest relative is the arboreal proto-primate. And during this entire evolution process, none of our forefathers had an exoskeleton. So, hence, we didn’t develop it naturally either.

However, for people who have various physical disabilities and are unable to walk or perform any type of physical movement, modern science has developed robotic exoskeletons to allow them to move more freely. Robotic exoskeletons have given life to people with physical disabilities. However, naturally, humans cannot develop exoskeletons. This may give you some idea of what is a disadvantage of having an exoskeleton.

Dr. Joe Hanson, who hosts the PBS series, emphasises this reason and emphasises that exoskeletons work well for tiny animals whose bones can carry the entire body weight; however, human bones can only carry about one tonne of body weight, and an exoskeleton, like an endoskeleton, will need to grow exponentially to carry a person’s body weight. An exoskeleton will have to provide enough support for a growing body and increasing body weight.

And thus, we see tiny bugs with exoskeletons as compared to humans or other mammals. We diverged from exoskeletal insects shortly after the first life form appeared 558 million years ago. This was the time when our first life-form cells split from the exoskeletal animal cells, which evolved differently. The evolutionary process is a very important reason why humans and other mammals don’t have exoskeletons. (See Interesting History of Dino Bones)

3. What if Humans had an Exoskeleton?

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Most likely, we wouldn’t be shaped like humans and would be considerably smaller. So, what is a disadvantage of having an exoskeleton? Well, the size of most animals with exoskeletons is limited for a few reasons. The muscular system is supported by the skeleton. Your muscles will connect to your bones and use them as anchor points for their flexing, whether they are on the inside or outside of your body. The issue is that as you get bigger, your limb muscles must also get bigger in order to support your body.

Moreover, with an exoskeleton, your leg muscles are enclosed in a tube of armour, and that tube must expand along with your stronger leg muscles to support them. (Also read What are Advantages of Cloning?)

4. What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Humans having Exoskeletons like Insects?

The following points are the advantages and disadvantages of exoskeletons:

 Exoskeletons have the following benefits: 

  • Their joint appendages enable complicated movements.
  • They offer security against abrasion and physical harm.
  • They give you more clout.

What is a disadvantage of having an exoskeleton? Exoskeletons have significant drawbacks, and they are:  

  • They are unable to flex or expand. 
  • Gas exchange and sensory pick-up require unique modifications.
  • It significantly limits growth.
  • It must be shed on a regular basis.

5. What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of having an Exoskeleton rather than a Backbone?

Photo by ThisIsEngineering on Pexels

Some of the advantages of having an exoskeleton rather than a backbone are:

  • The backbone is a part of the endoskeleton and provides support for walking, standing, and doing several major physical activities. However, it is the most delicate and vital part of the body. Any major injury to the spinal cord or backbone can make you crippled for life. This is where the exoskeleton comes into play.
  • Robotic exoskeletons can provide external support to a physically disabled person. With its assistance, a person can walk.
  • It has also helped those who are suffering from diseases related to the spine, like tumours, infections, genetic causes, and neurodegenerative diseases.
  • These exoskeletons help patients perform various types of complex movements, like stretching exercises, and provide external support.
  • It has assisted patients in strengthening paralysed muscles, promoting cerebral and nerve remodelling, and, in many cases, completely healing them.

Now, let’s see what is a disadvantage of having an exoskeleton, and the disadvantages of natural exoskeletons over the backbone, which is a major part of the endoskeleton. We see natural exoskeletons in invertebrate animals like arthropods; these animals don’t have any endoskeleton or backbone. There are millions of arthropods on earth, such as ants, bees, arachnids like spiders, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, and crustaceans like crabs and lobsters.

However, those animals with exoskeletons are extremely small in size. Exoskeletons are not found in large mammals such as elephants or camels. It is because the natural exoskeleton can provide support to smaller bodies but not to larger ones. It has to double in size to support the body weight of an average human or mammal. Another disadvantage of a natural exoskeleton is that it takes years for the tissues to become stronger; till then, exoskeleton animals are vulnerable to animal attacks. Must read Why it is Not Possible to Change Hereditary Conditions?

6. What is a Disadvantage of having an Exoskeleton?

The exoskeletons of arthropods must moult in order to expand. The exoskeleton cannot grow since it is formed of calcium carbonate and nonliving chitin. The animal must shed its old exoskeleton and grow a new, larger one to fit its new, larger body when the body cells inside the exoskeleton become too huge. Some arthropods have the ability to regrow body parts while they are moulting.

For instance, a crab’s claw that was lost to a predator will grow back under its exoskeleton and become visible once it is shed. However, do exoskeletons decompose? Let’s see the next point. Check out 10 Types of Crabs. 

7. Do Exoskeletons decompose?

Yes, exoskeletons decompose. Natural exoskeletons have components like calcium, potassium, and magnesium and are found in arthropods. They gradually decompose with time. (See How many bones in the human body?)

8. How Strong is an Exoskeleton?

Photo by Andras Kovacs on Unsplash

Robotic exoskeletons can provide support to different joints of the human body, a mammal, or any large animal. It encourages patients to have good posture. So, if humans had an exoskeleton, how strong is it? Robotic exoskeletons are strong and customised according to a patient’s body weight and size. Natural exoskeletons are made of hard chitin, which is a kind of polymer of acetylglucosamine, other natural chemicals, and wax elements that make the natural exoskeletons hard enough to provide flexibility and protection to tiny animals and insects. Check out How many Types of Cells are There in The Human Body?

9. How Big can an Exoskeleton get?

Arthropleura has the largest exoskeleton yet discovered on land, measuring 2.3 metres long and weighing over 100 kilograms. Jaekelopterus is 2.6 metres long and may weigh 180 kilogrammes in the water. (Also read What are the Least Abundant of the Formed Elements?)

10. Why can’t Exoskeletons grow?

Invertebrates with exoskeletons include spiders, insects, and shellfish. They receive strength and stability from the exoskeleton, which also shields their internal organs from harm. So, do exoskeletons grow? Exoskeleton-equipped creatures must shed their old skeletons and grow new ones in order to grow. Additionally, exoskeleton-equipped animals can only reach a certain size because, once they do, the animal’s muscles will be unable to move or grow the exoskeleton. 

However, aquatic animals with exoskeletons are able to grow larger because the water buoys up their skeletons and makes them feel less weighty. So, what is a disadvantage of having an exoskeleton? One reason natural exoskeletons stop growing after a certain size is that they are hard and rigid. It doesn’t permit the shell to grow and become bigger. Instead, the animal has to shed the old one to get a new and bigger exoskeleton. (Also read Why do Hermit Crabs need Shells?)

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