Are humans the only animals who use the stars to navigate?
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, "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, and 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.
 
Instead, they use the Milky Way, and 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.

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween78/are-humans-only-animals-who-use-stars-navigate/

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


COMMENTS (46)
  • lukeh-orv
    10/26/2015 - 02:55 p.m.

    The Sun will rise exactly East and set exactly West on two days: March 21 and September 21 which are the two equinoxes. The Sun will rise north of true East and set north of true West during summer. Whereas during winter the Sun will rise south of true East and set south of true West. The EXACT location where the Sun will rise and set will widely depending on the place. Some times of the year where the sun stays in the horizon for all 24 hours. So we can look at where the sunrise is know if it's north or south so we can navigate where we are going if we are camping or hiking and do not bring a compass with us.


  • lukeh-orv
    10/26/2015 - 02:58 p.m.

    The Sun will rise exactly East and set exactly West on two days: March 21 and September 21 which are the two equinoxes. The Sun will rise north of true East and set north of true West during summer. Whereas during winter the Sun will rise south of true East and set south of true West. The EXACT location where the Sun will rise and set will widely depending on the place. Some times of the year where the sun stays in the horizon for all 24 hours. So we can look at where the sunrise is know if it's north or south so we can navigate where we are going if we are camping or hiking and do not bring a compass with us.

  • austina-cam
    10/26/2015 - 03:56 p.m.

    You can use the sun to navigate because it rises in the east and sets in the west.

  • maxx-ver
    10/26/2015 - 06:15 p.m.

    I am surprised that the dung beetles used the stars I thought it would be an animal like the Bull

  • miam-cam
    10/26/2015 - 07:44 p.m.

    The sun helps you navigate by showing you what direction you are going. Because we know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west we know where we are by seeing where the sun is in the sky.

  • lukkasl-cam
    10/27/2015 - 10:47 a.m.

    It could help us because we would be able to see where the sun is at.If it is the north or south you could see that it was there.It would help you to see where you would be and where you need to be(walk or ride there).You would see if your south or east or west and where you should be (your east but you need to be north so you look at the sun).If the sun points the way you need to go you would just follow the angle the sun is at.

  • aidenk-cam
    10/27/2015 - 10:53 a.m.

    Well there are many different ways to use the sun to navigate some of them are. You can use the sun to help you walk in a straight line like the dung beetle. You can also use the sun to navigate if it is early in the day you can use the sun to help you go east,or go away from the sun and go west.If it is late in the day you can use the sun to go west,or go away from the sun and go east.

  • jareds-1-cam
    10/27/2015 - 05:00 p.m.

    You can use the Sun to navigate by using it to make a straight line in the day.

    • miac-cam
      10/29/2015 - 10:37 a.m.

      I don't really get that comment, what about the direction?

  • miac-cam
    10/27/2015 - 05:15 p.m.

    The sun rises in the east, in the morning, you know you are traveling east. The sun sets in the west, so you know you are traveling west. Also, the moon rises in the east and sets in the west just like the sun and the stars but the milky way too. This is how the Dung beetles use the sun, moon, stars and milky way to navigate.

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