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The Dung Beetle Compass

Dacke, Marie LU and Jundi, Basil el LU (2018) In Current Biology 28(17). p.993-997
Abstract

What do a burly rower, a backstroke swimmer and a hard-working South African dung beetle all have in common? The answer is: they all benefit from moving along a straight path, and do so moving backwards. This, however, is where the similarity ends. While the rower has solved this navigational challenge by handing the task of steering to the coxswain, who faces the direction of travel, and the swimmer is guided down her lane by colourful ropes, the beetle puts its faith in the sky. From here, it utilises a larger repertoire of celestial compass cues than is known to be used by any other animal studied to date. A robust internal compass, designed to interpret directional information, has evolved under the selective pressure of shifting... (More)

What do a burly rower, a backstroke swimmer and a hard-working South African dung beetle all have in common? The answer is: they all benefit from moving along a straight path, and do so moving backwards. This, however, is where the similarity ends. While the rower has solved this navigational challenge by handing the task of steering to the coxswain, who faces the direction of travel, and the swimmer is guided down her lane by colourful ropes, the beetle puts its faith in the sky. From here, it utilises a larger repertoire of celestial compass cues than is known to be used by any other animal studied to date. A robust internal compass, designed to interpret directional information, has evolved under the selective pressure of shifting today's lunch efficiently out of reach of competitors, also drawn to the common buffet. While this is a goal that beetles might share with the hungry athletes, they reach it with drastically different brain powers; the brain of the beetle is several times smaller than a match head, containing fewer than a million neurons. In this Primer, Marie Dacke and Basil el Jundi examine the behavioural and neuronal mechanisms of the dung beetle's celestial compass underlying straight-line orientation.

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author
and
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Current Biology
volume
28
issue
17
pages
993 - 997
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • pmid:30205078
  • scopus:85052893884
ISSN
0960-9822
DOI
10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.052
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
d29039c0-7b03-4244-85a2-6e7256a8cc98
date added to LUP
2018-10-11 12:32:18
date last changed
2020-10-20 03:49:08
@article{d29039c0-7b03-4244-85a2-6e7256a8cc98,
  abstract     = {<p>What do a burly rower, a backstroke swimmer and a hard-working South African dung beetle all have in common? The answer is: they all benefit from moving along a straight path, and do so moving backwards. This, however, is where the similarity ends. While the rower has solved this navigational challenge by handing the task of steering to the coxswain, who faces the direction of travel, and the swimmer is guided down her lane by colourful ropes, the beetle puts its faith in the sky. From here, it utilises a larger repertoire of celestial compass cues than is known to be used by any other animal studied to date. A robust internal compass, designed to interpret directional information, has evolved under the selective pressure of shifting today's lunch efficiently out of reach of competitors, also drawn to the common buffet. While this is a goal that beetles might share with the hungry athletes, they reach it with drastically different brain powers; the brain of the beetle is several times smaller than a match head, containing fewer than a million neurons. In this Primer, Marie Dacke and Basil el Jundi examine the behavioural and neuronal mechanisms of the dung beetle's celestial compass underlying straight-line orientation.</p>},
  author       = {Dacke, Marie and Jundi, Basil el},
  issn         = {0960-9822},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {09},
  number       = {17},
  pages        = {993--997},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Current Biology},
  title        = {The Dung Beetle Compass},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.052},
  doi          = {10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.052},
  volume       = {28},
  year         = {2018},
}