Sunday 18 March 2018

This inspiring Twitter thread will make you think twice about insulting the humble dung beetle

Science journalist Jennifer Harrison makes a compelling case for why this tiny-brained scarab beetle is worthy of your respect.

(CreativeNature_nl/Getty images)
(CreativeNature_nl/Getty images)

By Nilima Marshall

Who would have thought the humble dung beetle would become the subject of a heated Twitter conversation?

Yes, thanks to the internet, this tiny insect that “rolls poo” has become our latest hero.

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It all started when science journalist Jennifer Harrison tweeted to say she was told that the dung beetle isn’t as amazing as other creatures that walk the planet.

So she decided to *roll up her sleeves* to defend the scarab beetle in an epic Twitter thread.

But before you turn your nose up to this creature, Harrison wants you to know why this tiny-brained African beetle is worthy of your respect.

But of course, there’s more to it. After all, how does this tiny insect to walk in a straight line?

Harrison cites early research from Dr Marie Dacke and her colleagues at Lund University in Sweden.

While the moon may have been the subject of the initial studies, Dr Dacke found something even more surprising when she and her team did further research.

In 2013, the team published a study in Current Biology that the beetles actually used something else for navigation – the Milky Way.

“Even on clear, moonless nights, many dung beetles still manage to orientate along straight paths,” Dr Dacke said.

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“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.”

Now the internet is feeling suitable humbled.

Someone even wrote a joke to mark the occasion.

Let’s face it, you’ll never look at a dung beetle the same way again.

You can read the full Twitter thread here.

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