Who would believe that this lowly insect can navigate using the stars? Takes some serious smarts to do that, I would think!
Photo credit: Andi Gentsch
Don’t expect to see dung beetle paparazzi any time soon. That will just freak Vin Diesel out. But they do love photography—their version of it anyway.
Dung beetles do a little dance on top of a poop ball (where else?) during which they mentally take “snapshots” of the sky. Researchers believe that they do this to determine their position and that the dance creates a memory of their geographical and celestial surroundings.
Afterward, they drop off the ball and can travel in a straight line. For a long time, it’s been known that insects, dung beetles included, use the light of the Milky Way to find their way. However, the beetles now show more advanced navigational abilities. During their dancing, these bug astronomers create an internal memory of the positions of the Sun, Moon, and stars. They then use this stored image to travel where they want to go.
It remains a mystery whether they use any other ways to plot their position. So far, none have been found. They certainly don’t use anything else that would make their lives easier. Even when the sky is completely hidden behind clouds, dung beetles don’t follow landscape cues like most other insects do.
See? I told ya they were smart little critters...well. maybe except for that rolling around a big ol' ball of sh*t and using it to lay eggs in.
Coffee in the kitchen again this morning, but it's supposed to warm back up later!