The Poetry of Science – Episode 4: The Dance of the Dung Beetle

Recent research has shown how dung beetles use the sun, the wind, and even the stars to navigate.
Join Dr Illingworth for a poetic investigation into the internal compasses of these fascinating insects.

Read this episode’s science poem

A sharp aroma seeps across the sky,
You scurry to its source;
Working quickly to carefully craft
A sustaining sphere of pungent spice.
With cargo now in tow you
Castoff across this barren sea
In direction unknown,
Until looking up
You catch your breath
And ride the Milky Way;
Stars lit up like cat’s eyes
To guide you home.

Dawn breaks across the savannah.
A blazing sun pounds down,
Beating out a celestial rhythm
Across your dampened brow.
A heavenly pulse that
Drives you every onwards;
Destination unseen.

Clouds form overhead,
Their milky breath
Casting shadows over
Disappearing lines.
A cool wind drapes
Across your forehead,
Bringing turbulent cues
That keep you on course
As you stagger like a drunk
At a roadside examination;
Snaking along the surface
Until the sun breaks free
From its overcast prison
And you slowly dance
Back into line.

By Dr Sam Illingworth

The original episode appreared here.

Read the scientific study that inspired it here.

Go back to The Poetry of Science

Featured image credit: Kay-Africa, via Wikimedia Commons

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