5:53 p.m. - 2007-02-16
How was your week?
Things are smoov here. I'm excited to go to a 30th birthday party tonight for JS!
At my teaching job, I've noticed a disturbing trend; giant turds left in the toilets. Now, the toilets themselves might be to blame, as they have the type of flushing mechanism that needs to be held down for a while before a true flush occurs. But damn, there was a big floater in there the other morning. The OTHER thing is...are people afraid to flush a poopy toilet? As a person who plans on visiting that bathroom several times per day, I feel it's my duty to flush. You know?
I guess the real solution would be to employ some of these poo-loving darlings: The Dung Beetle!
My sis L requested this creature in the comments of a previous post, so, here we go!
The dung beetle is a member of the giant Scarabaeidae Family. There are over 5,000 species of the "True Dung Beetle" or those that eat only poop. Other species enjoy eating carrion or decaying plant and fungi material.
Dung beetles are classified into three groups: Dwellers, Tunnelers and Rollers. Dwellers are usually small, elongated beetles who, you guessed it, just live within the dung. Tunneler beetles dig underground near a poop source. Finally, rollers, perhaps the most famous group, collect and roll poop balls into a nest or hole, shown below:
I think dung beetles are cute, don't you?
You'll notice the "toothed" hindlegs of the beetle above. Rollers use these thorn-like appendages to help move the poo balls. Some desert dwelling beetles have hairy legs, to help them navigate through sand.
Dung provides a great meal for the beetles; all the nutrients are there, and most dung beetles don't even need to seek water elsewhere. Some species survive by simply sucking the "dung juices" out of the poo. Delicious!
"Rolling" dung beetles prefer to move their prize in a straight line, regardless of any obstacles in their way. Added to the challenge is the fact that other male beetles are lying in wait, trying to steal the dung ball!
Poo plays an important factor in dung beetle mating as well. One species rolls a small two centimeter ball most of the time, but when he is trying to attract a mate, will roll a larger, five centimeter ball! The female sometimes hitches a ride on the dung ball while her sweetie pushes it!
When the happy couple reaches some soft ground, they will bury the ball, and then head underground themselves for nooky! Then the female will lay her eggs inside the ball! Some dung beetles even stay underground to protect the growing larvae.
Ok, that's kind of a gross picture.
The cool thing about dung beetles is that they clean up a lot of messes. In fact, these beetles have been moved from Africa to Australia to help clean up after livestock. The beetles help prevent disease-carrying flies from brooding inside dung, and also help to aerate and fertilize the soil.
Ancient Egyptians revered the dung beetle too. The scarab heiroglyph can be interpreted several ways: "to come into being", "to become" or "to transform". It was thought that the male scarab inserted his sperm into a dung ball, and created offspring unaided, similar to the God Khepri, who created himself out of nothing. Khepri was the God of the Rising Sun, and some of the Egyptian dynasties thought that, like a dung beetle, he carried the sun on his back and took it underground each night, to renew it, and then carried the fiery ball above ground each morning.
A beautiful Egyptian scarab from www.hummingbirdworld.com:
Well, L, I hope you approve of this dung beetle entry!
Have a great weekend, everyone!
The dung balls look like truffles,