No. 7 - Moonlight Navigation, the Dung Beetle

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No. 7 - Moonlight Navigation, the Dung Beetle

Moonlight Navigation, the Dung Beetle

DCL

Dung beetles are already world-renowned for their ability to roll a ball of excrement across great distances, but recent evidence suggests that a certain species of dung beetle (African Scarabaeus zambesianus) may be capable of another impressive skill: navigation using polarized light from the moon. These insects are often observed to travel in a straight line with their dung balls, despite whatever obstacles they may encounter. It seems that these insects rely on the patterns created when moonlight interacts with particles in the atmosphere (polarization) to navigate in a straight line. When no moonlight is available, the dung beetles tend to veer, curve or otherwise meander, making safe delivery of those poop packages much more difficult.

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