Are humans the only animals who use the stars to navigate? Dung beetles, like the one seen in the picture, also use stars to navigate. (Thinkstock)
Are humans the only animals who use the stars to navigate?
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You asked us a question.

"Are humans the only animals who use the stars to navigate?"
 
Humans have been looking to the heavens for thousands of years. They used the skies for help with directions. 

It turns out that all that time we were not alone in looking up. Some birds and even seals have been shown to use the stars for navigation.
 
New research has added one more lofty animal to the group.
 
Wait for it! It is the dung beetle.
 
Dung piles are kind of like war zones. Thousands of beetles are fighting for their share of the spoils.
 
So it is pretty important that the African ball-rolling species be able to quickly escape with its loot.
 
During the day the beetles can use the sun to help them walk a straight line. And at night the moon comes in handy.
 
But why? That is when the dung beetles turn to the stars for help.
 
Humans and birds use a single star. Seals also use a single star. It is a lodestar. It can show them the way. But the dung beetle's eyes are not sensitive enough.
 
Instead they use the Milky Way. This bright band helps them walk a straight line out of the dung heap.  As sure as night is dark, they move away from the competition.
 
On a good day or night a single beetle can move about 250 times its own weight in poop. The bug recycles a whole lot of nutrients back into the soil.
 
It kind of makes you wonder what will happen if all the stars become hidden by light pollution.  Dung beetles may start to lose their way.

We will probably be up to our necks in it. 

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How can you use the sun to navigate?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (82)
  • isaiah-hym
    10/26/2015 - 02:07 p.m.

    You can use the sun to navigate when it is day but when it is night we use a star.

  • gianna-hym
    10/26/2015 - 02:09 p.m.

    You can use the sun to navigate by walking in a strat line.

  • christopher-hym
    10/26/2015 - 02:11 p.m.

    You can use the sun to navigate by going the way the sun is going.

  • arianna-hym
    10/26/2015 - 02:11 p.m.

    You can use the sun to navigate because at day it is to sunny so the Dung beetles have to go at night. So humans navigate at day time because we can follow the sun to are homes and travel to places.

  • john-hym
    10/26/2015 - 02:11 p.m.

    You can use the sun to navigate by walking in the direction that it is.

  • kayliana-hym
    10/26/2015 - 02:11 p.m.

    You can use the sun to navigate for the beetles to walk in a straight line. It can also help you see better when you are far away from something that is small.

  • garrett-hym
    10/26/2015 - 02:11 p.m.

    You can use the sun to navigate to see.

  • hannah-hym
    10/26/2015 - 02:12 p.m.

    Dung beetles can use the sun to navigate by using it to help them walk in a straight line. That's how one kind of animal uses the sun to navigate.????????????

  • kylie-hym
    10/26/2015 - 02:34 p.m.

    I think a way that I can use the sun to navigate is maybe follow the brightness of the sun. I think a way that I can do it is just look at the road and maybe it will show me the way.??????????

  • zaire-hym
    10/27/2015 - 01:36 p.m.

    How you can use the sun to navigate is to use the Milky Way to make it go forward.

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