Dung Beetles Navigate by the Moon, Study Says
Many creatures are known to use the polarization pattern of sunlight to navigate, so what sets dung beetles apart from the rest?
Out on the African savanna, a fresh and moist pile of fine-grained antelope dung is a nutritious treasure aggressively fought over by a melee of critters. The spoils go to those with the craftiest strategies to snatch and stash a piece of the pie.
To gain an edge in this battle for the poop, the African dung beetle Scarabaeus zambesianus orients itself by the polarized light pattern cast by the moon to make a straight, nighttime escape with its morsel, according to Marie Dacke, a biologist at the University of Lund in Sweden.
"There are so many beetles at the dung pile going after limited food, so they want to escape from the competition," she said.
Once the beetles are a