Are humans the only animals who use the stars to navigate?
You asked us, "Are humans the only animals who use the stars to navigate?"
For thousands of years, humans have been looking to the heavens for help with directions.
It turns out, all that time, we weren't alone in looking up -- some birds and even seals have been shown to use the stars for navigation.
And now, new research has added one more lofty animal to the group. Wait for it . . . the dung beetle.
Apparently dung piles are kind of like war zones with thousands of beetles vying for their share of the spoils.
So it's pretty important that the African ball-rolling species be able to quickly escape with its loot.
Now, 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, you ask? That's when those relentless rollers turn to the stars for help.
Humans, birds and seals all use a single star -- a lodestar -- to show them the way, but the dung beetle's eyes aren't sensitive enough.
So instead, they use the Milky Way. This bright band helps them walk a straight line out of the dung heap and -- as sure as night is dark -- away from the competition.
On a good day -- or, night -- a single beetle can move about 250 times its own weight in poop, recycling a whole lot of nutrients back into the soil.
It kind of makes you wonder what'll happen if all the stars become obscured by light pollution and dung beetles start to lose their way.
We'll probably be up to our necks in it. Literally.
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How can you use the sun to navigate?
Write your answers in the comments section below