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Dung beetles guided by Milky Way

January 25, 2013

I’ve found some weird headlines in my years blogging but this is a good one.

“Scientists have shown how the insects will use the Milky Way to orientate themselves as they roll their balls of muck along the ground.
Humans, birds and seals are all known to navigate by the stars. But this could be the first example of an insect doing so.
The study by Marie Dacke is reported in the journal Current Biology.”

“The native South African took the insects (Scarabaeus satyrus) into the Johannesburg planetarium where she could control the type of star fields a beetle might see overhead.

Importantly, she put the beetles in a container with blackened walls to be sure the animals were not using information from landmarks on the horizon, which in the wild might be trees, for example.

The beetles performed best when confronted with a perfect starry sky projected on to the planetarium dome, but coped just as well when shown only the diffuse bar of light that is the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy.”

“It has been suggested some frogs and even spiders are using stars for orientation. The Lund researcher is sure there will be many more creatures out there doing it; scientists just need to go look.”

Read the full story: here

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