Dung Beetles Use Milky Way Galaxy as a Map

Geo Beats
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Dung beetles use the Milky Way galaxy as a map.

How we navigate the direction we are traveling in has changed dramatically over the course of history from using GPS, Mapquest and Google Maps to using the stars to find our way.

Certain animals have been found to use the stars to orient themselves like birds and seals, and possibly even spiders and frogs.

Now researchers from Lund University in Sweden have discovered that African dung beetles use the night sky to navigate their food away from potential competitors.

They use the light from the Milky Way galaxy as a reference point to make sure they are rolling the ball of dung away from where they found it.

Dung beetles collect animal droppings and roll them in a straight line to a safe distance where they can eat, without being threatened by another dung beetle stealing their dinner.

The scientists tested this behavior by taking the beetles into a planetarium and changing how the sky looked to see how the beetles would react.

According to their published research: “This finding represents the first convincing demonstration for the use of the starry sky for orientation in insects and provides the first documented use of the Milky Way for orientation in the animal kingdom."

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