Dung Beetle Navigation
"Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God."
Humans, birds and seals are all known to navigate by the stars. But now, the lowly dung beetle could be the first example of an insect being a stargazer. These lowly insects appear to use the stars of the Milky Way to know where they are going. Most humans can't even accomplish that!
Dung beetles, you see, like to move in straight lines. When they come across a pile of droppings, they make a small ball of dung and start pushing it away to a safe distance where they can dine alone, far away from their hungry neighbors. If they didn't know how to push it in a straight line, they would run the risk of circling back to the original pile of droppings and having to fight off other dung beetles.
Dr. Marie Dacke of Lund University in Sweden had previously shown that dung beetles were able to travel in a straight line by taking cues from the Sun, the Moon, and even the pattern of polarized light formed around these light sources. But it was their capacity to maintain course even on clear, moonless nights that led to the new discovery.
Evolution, of course, is powerless to explain how the dung beetle can navigate by the stars – something that most people can't do without the help of technology. God has given them a set of instructions – or instincts – that enable them to survive. If God cares so much for the lowly dung beetle, just think about how much more He cares for You!
Notes: "Dung Beetles Use the Milky Way for Orientation", ScienceDirect, February 2013, pp. 298-300.
"Dung beetles guided by Milky Way", BBC News.
Photo: Courtesy of Rafael Brix. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.
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