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.

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 beetle will climb on top of it and dance around, orienting itself.

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

Scientists theorized that the beetles were actually using the Milky Way to orient themselves and navigate. They tested this theory on one species of African dung beetle by putting little hats on them that covered their eyes.

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