Led by Stars

Being a farmer, we all come across Dung Beetles. In fact, I chance upon them often while on a search of cow dung. I don’t own a cow but I know the value of dung. Every weekend when I visit my farm I’m on the lookout for cow dung deposited in the neighbourhood of my farm. Fresh one’s or the dry caked variety I pick it up in a plastic poly bag and bring it to my ground to spread it around the tree trunks or place it on my vegetable patch. Along with the dung I do bring the Dung Beetle too. Did you know that these insects are guided by the Milky Way?

“Look up at the sky on a clear, moonless night, and you can make out the broad, hazy band of the Milky Way. For the longest time, observers were unsure what the milkiness was. Celestial clouds? Tiny stars? The “fiery exhalation” of large, sublunar stars, as Aristotle proposed? In 1610, using a telescope (a recent invention), Galileo revealed that the haze is made up of individual, barely visible stars; they are faint only because they are so distant. So continued the hard process of putting us in our proper cosmic place—an orientation that only gets more disorienting with each new scientific discovery. Today we know that the Milky Way is a galaxy a hundred thousand light-years wide and that it contains more than two hundred billion stars, including our sun. Our galaxy is shaped like a flat, spiraling disk, with a bulge at the center where the density of stars is greatest (there’s a black hole in there, too); we live more than halfway out, on one of the spiral arms. When you view the Milky Way, you are gazing through the plane of this disk and at the universe around and beyond—which, astronomers report, is imponderably vast and contains billions of other galaxies. Are there other sentient beings out there? Who knows. On Earth, at least, humans suppose that we alone seek out the sweep of our own galaxy. But we’re wrong. Late last week, in a paper in Current Biology, Marie Dacke, a biologist at Lund University, in Sweden, and her colleagues revealed that at least one other species takes guidance from the Milky Way: the dung beetle.
For more read http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2013/01/dung-beetles-dancing-to-the-milky-way.html#ixzz2JJRa0t6j


2 thoughts on “Led by Stars

  1. dnyanesh

    Good information .. but be careful. these big Beetles can harm your coconut trees … they eat the centre core part of coconut

  2. Kamal

    Thanks Hariman,

    I loved the way Alan Burdick ended the article. We suppose that we are superior to dung beetles, but are we really? At least dung beetles recycle. We scavenge, hoard, consume…what? Crap, mostly.

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