Tag Archives: mating

The Strongest and Most Misunderstood Creature in the World (Video)

When you think of strength in the animal kingdom, it’s natural to think of some of the massive majestic creatures we’re all so familiar with: lions, elephant, grizzlies, rhinos, hippos…

These animals are definitely powerful, but when you examine pound-for-pound strength, you quickly realize that it’s the smallest creatures who are really the most impressive lifters.

Take the leafcutter ant, for instance. These ants cut off and carry leaf segments that are sometimes up to 50 times heavier than they are.

Leafcutter ants march across the forest floor. Click to enlarge

But even the leafcutter ant is no match for the dung beetle when it comes to true strength.

Though their appetite for dung has given them a bit of a bad name in our society today, dung beetles (also known as scarabs) were actually worshipped in ancient Egypt.

An eagle-winged scarab beetle on the door to the Edfu temple in Egypt. Click to enlarge

The ancient Egyptians believed that the sun was rolled across the sky every day by a giant scarab god.

Dung beetles may not actually be gods, but they definitely have superhuman strength. The insects are able to drag dung balls up to 1,140 times their body weight- the equivalent of an average human pulling six double deckers buses full of passengers.

But there’s more to dung beetles than just eating poop.

For example, they’re actually pretty good parents. Dung beetles are one of only a few groups of insects that has been shown to actively care for their offspring. There is even a monogamous species of dung beetle that mates for life.

Even more interesting is the dung beetle’s navigation system. After rolling a fresh poop ball, the beetles will climb on top of it and dance around, orienting itself.

Scientists theorized that the beetles were actually using the Milky Way to orient themselves and navigate.

One of the dung beetles used in the Milky Way navigation testing. Click to enlarge

They tested this theory on one species of African dung beetle by putting little hats over them that covered their eyes.

The beetles still perched atop their poop balls to try and orient themselves, but only were able to wander around aimlessly without being able to see the stars, proving that they were using the heavens to navigate.

So give the dung beetle some credit- they’re probably much more intelligent and complex than you ever imagined.

To learn more about dung beetles, check out these 10 Fascinating Facts About Dung Beetles from About.com.

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Villagers Just Caught the Largest Ever Aquatic Insect And It’s Bigger Than Your Hand

Villagers from a village in the Sichuan province of China just collected the largest ever aquatic insect specimen.

The bug, a massive dobsonfly, has a wingspan of more than 8 inches. The previous record-holder for the world’s largest aquatic insect was a South American helicopter damselfly, which had a wingspan of 7.5 inches.

Helicopter damselfly (Megaloprepus coerulatus)

Though dobsonflies are relatively common (there are over 200 species across Asia, Africa and South America), one of this size had been unheard of until now.

Looking at a dobsonfly can actually be very misleading. For one, those massive, grisly-looking mandibles protruding from its head are actually only used for mating. Males flaunt them to impress the females and hold them in place during the actual mating process.

A male dobsonfly (on the right) courts a female before mating. Click to enlarge

Also, those massive wings are pretty much all for show. The insect almost never flies, preferring to spend the bulk of its time in the water (both underwater and on the surface), or sheltering underneath rocks.

Dobsonflies are also a biological indicator of water quality. They prefer clean water with very low levels of pollution and a relatively neutral pH. If water quality falls below their standards, they will leave and find a new body of water to call home.

The villagers gave the record-setting specimen to the Insect Museum of West China.

(h/t Discovery)

Blue-Footed Boobies: Their Scandalous Sex Lives And the Secret Behind Their Blue Feet (Video)

Blue-footed boobies are pretty fascinating as far as bird species go. The birds are a marine species, only needing land for mating and raising rearing their young.

The birds can be found up and down the Pacific coast from California all the way down to Peru, including in the world famous Galapagos Islands.

The birds are known for their bright blue feet, which they incorporate into their elaborate mating rituals. The birds use the blue feet as an indicator of health and potency: bluer feet mean a better potential mate.

The birds just can’t resist a really blue pair of feet, and often engage in extra-marital affairs. However, they always return to their life partner at the end of the day.

Check out the blue-footed booby’s mating dance and learn about their strange sex lives in the video below:

The Flamingo’s Mating Dance Is Guaranteed to Put a Smile On Your Face (Video)

These particular flamingoes are Andean Flamingoes, which live in the Andes Mountains of Chile in South America.

While all flamingoes across the globe do a similar mating dance, each species adds their own particular flair and swag to it.