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Sun May 26, 2019, 02:13 PM

There's still so much we don't know about the star-gazing beetle with a tiny brain

May 26, 2019 5.05am EDT

Edited extract from “The Dance of the Dung Beetles” published by Wits University Press.

Dung beetles have been ever-present in the history of the West – but oddly, less so elsewhere – in religion, art, literature, science and the environment. What we understand about them now mirrors our greater understanding of the important role they play in keeping our planet healthy.

The story of these beetles, which we tell in our new book “The Dance of the Dung Beetles”, comes with a few unexpected twists. It moves from the tombs of the pharaohs to the drawing rooms of directors of the Dutch East India Company to the remote forests of Madagascar. It is a big story carried on the back of a family of small creatures who seldom diverge from their dogged pursuit of dung in its infinite variety and abundant supply.

Like the housemaids of Victorian Britain, who tended fires and households in the small hours while the Empire swept across the globe, they remain largely unseen and ignored. Yet without those housemaids, the world would have a lot more dirt in it. In the same way, dung beetles are largely invisible. And yet without their vital activities, the world would have a lot more faeces in it.

More than “dung-grubbers”
Dung beetles have relatively minuscule brains, much of which is devoted to analysing smells. But they also process visual information that even humans with their vast brains struggle to comprehend. This was shown in a study we conducted with other scientists that revealed how dung beetles use the light of the Milky Way to orientate.


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Reply There's still so much we don't know about the star-gazing beetle with a tiny brain (Original post)
Judi Lynn May 2019 OP
flotsam May 2019 #1

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sun May 26, 2019, 03:40 PM

1. Is that title all about Trump??? N/T

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