Your Curmudgeon’s favorite insect — the Dung beetle — is once again in the news. Our last post about these noble creatures was Dung Beetles, Cattle, and Global Warming. But the best was Dung Beetles Navigate by the Stars, and that post links to a few others, including one you shouldn’t miss: Intelligent Design: The Dung Beetle’s Tale.
Another aspect of the extraordinary dung beetle is discussed in this new article at PhysOrg: When dung beetles dance, they photograph the firmament. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
The discovery that dung beetles use the light of the Milky Way to navigate in the world has received much praise. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have now taken a new step in understanding the existence of these unique beetles: when the beetles dance on top of a ball of dung, they simultaneously take a photograph – a snapshot – of how celestial bodies are positioned.
O wondrous creatures! But what’s the purpose of such a snapshot? We’re told:
Then they know where they are going and roll off with their ball of dung in a straight line across the savannah.
We love the dung beetle! Let’s read on:
“Other animals and insects also use the position of celestial bodies to navigate, but the dung beetles are unique – they are the only ones to take a snapshot where they gather information about how various celestial bodies, such as the sun, moon and stars, are positioned”, says Basil el Jundi, researcher at Lund University.
The snapshot is taken when the beetle is dancing, and the image is stored in the brain. When the beetle then starts to roll its ball of dung, it is able to successfully navigate straight ahead by matching the stored snapshot of the sky with the present environment.
How does Jundi know that? PhysOrg continues:
The experiments were performed in South Africa at a facility where the dung beetles only had access to an artificial firmament to orient themselves. Because the sky was artificial, the researchers were able to regulate the amount of light, as well as change the positions of the celestial bodies. Put simply, this allowed them to compare how the beetles changed direction depending on the placement of the artificial sun or moon, etc.
They used a dung beetle planetarium! If you have a subscription, you can read all about it in Current Biology: A Snapshot-Based Mechanism for Celestial Orientation. Here’s one last excerpt about the beloved beetles:
According to him [Basil el Jundi], the results of how dung beetles find their way in the world can become significant in the development of navigation systems in driverless vehicles.
Verily, there is much we can learn from these blessed beetles. It’s surprising that the Discoveroids haven’t yet cited them as evidence of their intelligent designer.
Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.