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Dance of the Dung Beetles


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Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One When the dung beetle wore golden shoes
  • Chapter Two Crawling out of the darkness
  • Chapter Three Joining the dots
  • Chapter Four Colonising insects
  • Chapter Five Of elephants and dung beetles
  • Chapter Six Tribes with human attributes
  • Chapter Seven Design construction first
  • Conclusion: `What a wonderful world'
  • Appendices
  • Select bibliography
  • Index

About the Author

Marcus Byrne is Professor in the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Science at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He has studied dung beetles for more than 30 years.

Helen Lunn has a PhD in Musicology and has a wide research base. She has worked in both academic and popular writing environments.


"This book will leave you with a deeper appreciation of nature and of our relationship to other living creatures. It will forever leave an image in your mind of a little beetle with a peaked cap glued onto its shiny, earless head unable to see the sun and thus meandering pointlessly with their dung balls."--Sandra Swart, Professor of History, University of Stellenbosch
"Ig Nobel Prize winner Marcus Byrne has a new book called Dance of the Dung Beetles. It can please and enlighten anyone--human or beetle or both (Beatle)--who ever has contact with with dance, dung, life, or the universe."--Improbable
"Dung beetles -- which fascinated Charles Darwin -- were once divine symbols. In ancient Egypt, Khepri (god of the rising Sun) had a scarab-beetle head because the insect 'danced' balls of dung across the Earth, just as the Sun moved across the sky. The beetle is thought later to have metamorphosed into zodiac sign Cancer, the crab. Now, thanks to experiments by entomologists such as Marcus Byrne, we know that dung beetles can navigate by the Milky Way. His collaboration with writer Helen Lunn, eye-catchingly illustrated, is a captivating compound of science, history and myth."--Nature
"Marcus Byrne and Helen Lunn recount the history of these much storied and increasingly studied Coleopterans in their new Dance of the Dung Beetles. Delving back some 3,000 years and following their subjects up to the present day, this new book seems to be just the thing for entomologists, general naturalists, and curious general readers alike."--The Well-Read Naturalist

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