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Moonlighting: Beetles navigate by lunar polarity

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2:21pm, July 1, 2003

By watching dung beetles roll their balls of dung at night, an international team of researchers has turned up evidence that the insect aligns its path by detecting the polarization of moonlight.

When researchers set up polarizing filters to shift the moonbeams, the African beetle Scarabaeus zambesianus changed direction to compensate, says Marie Dacke of the University of Lund in Sweden. "This is the first proof that any animal can use polarized moonlight for orientation," she says.

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