Tuesday, September 30, 2014

poo beetle dances


Humpback dung beetle. Photo by Sammi Stoklosa

"The richness of the biological world is the most wonderful feature of the biosphere, and every story is worth telling, no matter how humble, or indeed insular, is the organism concerned," writes author Richard Fortey.

Dr. Louise discovered this curious large black beetle with extra long back legs in the vulture enclosure at the nature center. AmeriCorps member Sammi Stoklosa pulled out the beetle book and quickly IDed the odd thing which brought to mind the importance of dung beetles. They help clean up the environment, carrying away the mess left behind by all sorts of creatures.

Does a bear poo in the woods?

Well, sure it does. So who cleans it up?

Ambling about in search of poo, a dung beetle finds its fecal treasure at night while we are asleep. The droppings are used as brood chambers and food for the beetle's developing young. To each its own, we all have a role to play. 

Mine is just a bit more refined.

Dung beetles eat poo, a good thing, because it keeps us from stepping in it. (One report states they prefer herbivore excrement to omnivore.)

Some dung beetles are known as tunnelers (they bury it on the spot), others are rollers. A third group actually live inside the scat, but we won't go there for now.

The rollers are interesting navigators. They roll the dung into a ball for the trip back to their homes, but how do they find their way? It's hard enough to push the lump, little on navigate, just how do they move it along on a true and proper course?

Well, it seems, it does a little orientation dance and consults the stars or position of the sun. What else can they do? There's no road maps that small. Video: beetle gets its bearings.


Marie said...

I am always fascinated with the wonderful information you provide on your blog! This was very interesting...and we should be interested in all of nature's creatures, even when they deal with poo. :-)

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