Dung Beetle insights: The Milky Way, and now the sun

The team that won an Ig Nobel Prize for discovering how dung beetles relate to the Milky Way has now, plus or minus some colleagues, discovered how the those beetles and their cousins relate, also, to the sun.

basil_eljundiThey tell about it in a new study: “Neural coding underlying the cue preference for celestial orientation,” Basil el Jundi [pictured here], Eric J. Warrant, Marcus J. Byrne, Lana Khaldy, Emily Baird, Jochen Smolka, and Marie Dacke, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, epub August 24, 2015. The team is based at Lund University, Sweden, and the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

The 2013 Ig Nobel Prize for biology and astronomy (a joint category!) was awarded to Marie Dacke, Emily Baird, Marcus Byrne, Clarke Scholtz, and Eric J. Warrant, for discovering that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the Milky Way. They wrote up that research, in this paper: “Dung Beetles Use the Milky Way for Orientation,” Marie Dacke, Emily Baird, Marcus Byrne, Clarke H. Scholtz, Eric J. Warrant, Current Biology, epub January 24, 2013.

Rachel A. Becker describes the new work, in a National Geographic article called “Why Dung Beetles Watch the Sky While Rolling Poop Balls“.

In this video made in 2013, Eric Warrant discusses the dung beetles and the Ig Nobel Prize:

In this video, made earlier that same year, Marie Dacke introduces people to the world od dung beetles and navigation: