Learning from a dung beetle…

…not just any dung beetle, but a pachysoma.  I hadn’t heard of it either – until I travelled a well worn path (per yesterday’s entry).

As I started to watch this TED talk by Marcus Byrne, I wasn’t feeling particularly optimistic about learning anything useful. But it’s a regular path, so I let it roll. Don’t get me wrong, the talk was very interesting – all sorts of info about how they navigate and push dung balls through hot environments.

I started to pay more attention when Byrne talked about their path integration, and especially when he moved on to talk about the pachysoma species (if that’s the right term to use). This particular beetle follows an interesting routine as it moves dung balls from their store back to the nest, per the image below.

As the beetle leaves its nest, it takes a circuitous route, but when it reaches the dung store it makes a beeline (good pun? ;-)) for its nest. The explanation is that on the outward journey it is looking for alternative dung heaps (food sources), but on the homeward leg it is intent on getting the prize back home as quickly as possible.

OK, so my explanation is a bit simplistic (and technically inept).  So what’s the lesson?

Well, there’s a wee bit of a parallel with Bella – being alert to opportunities as we go about our business.

I’m glad that I persevered with this talk; that I travelled the well-worn path of TED.  There are further lessons to glean from the dung beetle, but these can wait for another day.


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