Keep Those Doodies Rollin’

Once upon a time, humans who arrogantly assumed themselves more “advanced,” thought the ancients were all wet, with such wisdom nuggets as “as above, so below.”

Not so much anymore. Not when Science Men are discovering stuff like how dung beetles, when pushing their balls of doody around, are guided by the Milky Way.

When dung beetles roll their tiny balls of poop across the under the milky way tonightsands of South Africa on a moonless night, they look to the glow of our Milky Way galaxy as a navigational aid, researchers report.

“Even on clear, moonless nights, many dung beetles still manage to orientate along straight paths,” Marie Dacke, a biologist at Sweden’s Lund University said in a news release. “This led us to suspect that the beetles exploit the starry sky for orientation—a feat that had, to our knowledge, never before been demonstrated in an insect.”

The Science Men devised an Experiment, in order to confirm the relationship between the pint-sized poop-pushers, and the stars.

First, they built a 10-foot-wide circular arena in a South African game reserve and watched what troops of nocturnal dung beetles did on moonlit nights, moonless nights and cloudy nights. They fitted the bugs with little cardboard caps to block their view of the sky. They even fitted some of the bugs with transparent plastic caps, just to make sure that any differences they saw were due to the sky blockage rather than the presence of the caps.

Then the scientists took their dung-beetle arena into the Johannesburg Planetarium and ran the same experiment, to eliminate the possibility that the beetles were using terrestrial landmarks to plot their course in the dark. The planetarium was programmed to show the night sky with the Milky Way, or the Milky Way without the brightest stars in the sky, or the brightest stars without the Milky Way, or just the diffuse glow of the Milky Way with no stars at all.

The bottom line was clear: Those bugs could keep track of how the fuzzy streak of the Milky Way was oriented in the sky, to let's fight over shitmake sure they rolled their balls of dung in a suitably straight line.

The Milky Way is Important to the dung beetles, because “without the proper orientation, the beetles might circle back to the dung pile, where they’d have to face all the other beetles trying to steal away their tiny balls of poop.” As Science Man Marcus Byrne of the University of Witwatersrand explained:  “The dung beetles don’t care which direction they’re going in; they just need to get away from the bun fight at the poo pile.”

This may explain why humans too veer off in so many different directions. Because humans are also too often about stealing each other’s shit. And so they “don’t care which direction they’re going in; they just need to get away from the bun fight at the poo pile.”

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7 Responses to “Keep Those Doodies Rollin’”


  1. 1 possum January 28, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    The stuff that Science Men find time to study and to discover never ceases to be amazing. What next?

    On the other hand maybe if human beings used the Milky Way for direction maybe fewer folks would find themselves headed in the wrong direction so much of the time.

    • 2 bluenred January 29, 2013 at 12:32 am

      Science Men who make little hats for dung beetles are Completely Cool, in my book.

      Maybe they could make little hats for humans, that would help them more artfully roll their own balls of dung.

      • 3 possum January 29, 2013 at 4:34 am

        Much as the idea of little hats for humans might sound good, so many people already spend far too much time rolling their dung balls. Why encourage or improve the process?

        • 4 bluenred January 30, 2013 at 9:16 am

          I don’t think there’s any stopping them, in their dung-rolling. Might as well have little hats, while they’re doing it.

          • 5 possum January 30, 2013 at 9:37 am

            OK. So maybe if the hats are made foolish enough in look people will begin to see their own foolishness?

            • 6 bluenred January 30, 2013 at 9:42 am

              It could work like that. Sorta like I how I wish they’d gone with the trillion-dollar platinum coin, which would have brought home to people how truly absurd is “money.”

              The president would have had a single coin minted, and then said: “Look what I made! It’s a little bit of platinum, and it’s worth a trillion dollars! Because I say so! Isn’t that neat? I put it in the treasury, and now there is no debt-ceiling problem! How cool is that?! It’s like magic! Next week, maybe I’ll make a quadzillion-dollar coin! Come watch!”

              Nuts.

              • 7 possum January 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm

                Pecans. Walnuts. Cashews. Pistacchios. The world is filled with nuts. Humans are only a small piece of the absurdity. “Money” is one more as you suggest.


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