Keep Your Feet on the Dung and Your Eyes on the Stars


Scientists at Sweden’s Lund University, reporting in a recent issue of Current Biology, explored the burning question of why dung beetles appear to be “dancing” on the tops of the dung balls they roll away. The answer? The beetles need to roll their treasures away from the heap as fast as possible (lest others swipe them) and that they can best maintain a straight line away by celestial navigation. To test the hypothesis, researchers outfitted some beetles with tiny visors to block their view of the sky; those beetles rolled their balls in mostly irregular routes, whereas sky-searching beetles rolled straight.

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