Consider the dung beetle Scarabaeus sacer. Prior to embarking on a journey, it climbs onto its freshly created dung ball and dances around in circles on the top. This is not a whimsical display of delight at its latest accumulation of fresh faeces. It is actually a sophisticated method of navigation.

It is inspired by the fact that the dung beetle wants to establish the most direct escape route from rivals looking to steal its ball. Since the dung ball is spherical, if the dung beetle doesn’t have a clear idea of where it is going it runs the risk of rolling in circles and ending up back ...


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