Galactic Guidance for Dung Beetles

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Galactic guidance for dung beetles described in articles in BBC News, ScienceDaily, ScienceNOW, 24 January and Current Biology 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.12.034. When dung beetles find a pile of droppings they gather some, shape it into a ball, and then quickly roll it far away ‘in a straight line’ to prevent others stealing it before they can bury it. Previous studies of beetles have shown they are guided by the pattern of polarised light from the sun and moon, but biologists in South Africa noticed that the beetles can maintain a straight line even on moonless nights, so they suggested beetles must get some guidance from the stars.

To test this idea they placed dung beetles in a planetarium and observed their behaviour. They found the beetles orientated themselves and maintained their course when a normal starry sky or just the Milky Way was projected onto the planetarium, but had difficulty keeping on a straight course when a pattern of individual stars was projected. Dung beetles have better vision than insects such as bees, but probably cannot see individual stars. The Milky Way would appear as a band of diffuse light across the sky. The researchers concluded: “This finding represents the first convincing demonstration for the use of the starry sky for orientation in insects and provides the first documented use of the Milky Way for orientation in the animal kingdom”.

BBC, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: To believe the beetle ‘learned’ his astronomy charts to achieve this would be regarded as ridiculous by all, but to claim it evolved this ability by chance random naturalistic process is even more absurd. It is the same as believing a GPS navigation device built and programmed itself, rather than being designed and built by high IQ engineers with the guidance information programmed into it by equally smart software designers. The ability to use the sun, moon and Milky Way requires information to pre-exist in the beetle’s brain. It must be able to compare the starlight data it is receiving against a known reference library, then act to align its motion against the incoming data and then move a preconceived distance in a straight line across the earth’s irregular surface, constantly comparing its position from its starting point via the star light/inbuilt data base. This is no problem for a creative designer who also created the beetle’s brain. Genesis tells us the sun moon and stars were created to serve mankind for signs, timekeeping and seasons. As God is the creator of all living things it seems He also gave animals the ability to use them as well, in order to carry out their functions in the environment. (Ref. insects, ecology, astronomy)

Evidence News 6 February 2013

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