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Dung Beetles Dance To Navigate

Filed under: Science!Icky Icky Dog PooInsectsCrazzzzyBugs

dung-beetle-rollin-dung.jpg

Ask a dung beetle their idea of the perfect day and they'd probably say it'd be to dance around on top of a ball of poop.

Gross.

This is not only interesting to dung beetles… but the Air Force as well.

Wait… what?

Yup. The Air Force has funded research into the dancing of dung beetles.

When a dung beetle comes across some dung, they quickly roll a ball and get it out of there, mainly due to all the competition from other dung beetles.

In their rush, they sometimes get spun around. So they realign themselves by "[rotating] around their vertical axis," aligning with celestial bodies.

Crazy! That's some serious navigation.

They do it whenever they lose control of the ball or have to move across rough terrain.

The United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research is studying the beetles to maybe learn some navigation techniques.

The study is called "Nocturnal Visual Orientation in Flying Insects: A Benchmark for the Design of Vision-based Sensors in Micro-Aerial Vehicles."

So the air force is planning on making a swarm of miniature robotic bugs to fight our enemies?

Cool!

[Image courtesy Rafael Brix/Wikipedia.]

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