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Author Topic: How do Dung beetles navigate at night?  (Read 2915 times)

Offline thedoc

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How do Dung beetles navigate at night?
« on: 24/01/2013 23:31:47 »
Dung beetles navigate by the light of the Milky Way, becoming the first insects known to use the night sky in this way to orient themselves.  In fact, itís the first evidence of any animal using the diffuse light from the whole Milky Way, rather than the stars themselves, as a navigational aid...

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« Last Edit: 24/01/2013 23:31:47 by _system »


 

Offline Minerva

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Re: How do Dung beetles navigate at night?
« Reply #1 on: 29/01/2013 08:08:29 »
That's fascinating and also raises another question for me.  I have always thought dung beetles roll their dung away with their hind legs (rs in the air so to speak :-) ).  If that's the case and I haven't got that wrong, what do they navigate with?  Are their eyes positioned in such a way that they can see the sky in that position or do they have a photo-receptive backside?
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: How do Dung beetles navigate at night?
« Reply #2 on: 30/01/2013 12:15:01 »
...... have a photo-receptive backside?

Hmmm, that could be handy.

The Dung Beetle has compound eyes, so while it may have its bum in the air, it can see pretty much all around it. Just as well if you plan to navigate by the stars, but equally handy when you consider that a dung beetle which takes its eye off the ball (so to speak) will likely find another dung beetle pinching his balls. You'd think that just one elephant would provide enough ........ erm....... dung to satisfy all the local residents, even so a dung beetle will readily do a runner with another dung beetle's balls.
 

Offline Minerva

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Re: How do Dung beetles navigate at night?
« Reply #3 on: 30/01/2013 22:11:28 »
Thanks Don-its fascinating stuff.  Presumably then seeing ahead is not a necessity so is there any reason they use their back legs rather than their front legs to roll the dung? 
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: How do Dung beetles navigate at night?
« Reply #4 on: 30/01/2013 22:46:31 »
Thanks Don-its fascinating stuff.  Presumably then seeing ahead is not a necessity so is there any reason they use their back legs rather than their front legs to roll the dung? 

Looking at the photos, it appears as if the beetles have 2 front legs and 4 back legs.  This may in fact be common among insects.  It likely is easiest to roll the ball using the 4 back legs, while waking on the 2 front legs. 

Obviously evolution led to their niche.  But, assuming an ancestor also had 6 legs, it may have been easier to adapt to using the 4 back legs to roll the ball, rather than adapting to walking on one pair of rear legs, and using the other pair of front legs and rear legs together to roll the ball.
 

Offline Minerva

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Re: How do Dung beetles navigate at night?
« Reply #5 on: 31/01/2013 15:00:22 »
I see - thanks.  I wonder how they experience the Milky Way...as in I wonder if they sense its a great distance away......?
 

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Re: How do Dung beetles navigate at night?
« Reply #5 on: 31/01/2013 15:00:22 »

 

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