09 Mar '12, 1pm

King of the Dung Hill

In a boon to livestock farmers in Florida, diverse communities of dung beetles work to break down cow pies. Lyle Buss/University of Florida The onthophagus hecate, a dung beetle that is more commonly known as a scooped scarab. Dung beetles are an interesting bunch. Given that all animals poop, dung beetles have evolved to fill that smelly niche on all six habitable continents. Some species have a specialty like cattle, bison, antelope, elephant or deer, or droppings from any other large animal. Others are generalists, although they may have their favorite delicacies. Some take special delight in feces from omnivorous animals, especially humans and pigs. As for scientists specializing in dung beetles, “they do it because they absolutely love the work,” said Phillip Kaufman , a veterinary entomologist at the University of Florida who recently undertook a dung beetle investig...

Full article: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/09/king-of-the-dun...

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