Dung Beetles Use The Galaxy For Navigation

Dung beetles try to roll their balls of dung away from the dung pile in a straight line. That way, they avoid competitors who might try to steal their dung ball. But because they move backwards, they often encounter obstacles and lose their way. Scientists have found that in order to reorient themselves, the beetles clamber up onto the dung ball and locate the position of the sun, moon, stars, and even the bright band of light from the Milky Way. Thus far, they are the only animal that has been proven to use the galaxy for navigation (though researchers speculate that other insects do so as well).

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Female dung beetles judge potential mates by the size of their dung balls. 00:34

  2. When they roll their dung balls off course, dung beetles can use the sun, the moon, and the Milky Way to reorient themselves. 01:08

  3. Female dung beetles lay their eggs inside balls of dung. 01:43

Written by Curiosity Staff August 19, 2015