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Dung Beetles Use The Milky Way To Navigate

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DungSure, the Nobel Prize is nice and everything, but it isn’t half as interesting as the Ig Nobel Prize. The Ig Nobel Prizes, which are organized by the Annals of Improbable Research and are presented each fall at Harvard University, honor scientific achievements that sound pretty ridiculous, but which are based on sound science and actually merit thought. This year, there were a bunch of fun winners, including a psychology experiment that concluded that people who think they’re drunk tend to also think they’re attractive (this explains a lot, doesn’t it?), an experiment about the effects of opera music on mice who have had heart transplants, and a study that observed dung beetles using the cosmos to help their sense of direction.

The cosmically inclined dung beetle study actually won two Ig Nobels: one for biology and one for astronomy. It was a bIg Nobel win for the beetles and for the scientific team comprised or researchers from Sweden, Australia, South Africa, Germany, and the United Kingdom. They’ve even got the best research project tag line: “Some people think our research is crap.” Yes! Scientists who can pun (and laugh at themselves) are the best!

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Dung Beetles Steer By The Light Of The Milky Way

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Sure, they’re most known for their close association with poop, but it looks like dung beetles may be smarter than we give them credit for. Scientists from South Africa and Sweden have discovered that the feces-munching insects use the star-filled swath of the Milky Way to steer in a straight line. This behavior makes it the only known animal to get directions in this manner.

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