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Onthophagus hecate dung beetle

Onthophagus hecate dung beetle

Because carrion is a secondary food for dung beetles, they are not considered necrophagous, which means primarily feeding on carrion. Therefore, until now, scientists questioned whether dung exposed by decomposition or the carrion itself attracted the beetles. It appears they no longer have to wonder. Researchers who spent a year baiting dung beetles in traps with dead rats on the Kansas prairie found that more beetles—such as this Onthophagus hecate dung beetle, the second-most common collected in the study—congregated at the fore rather than the aft end of the carrion, which suggests they were drawn to the carcass itself, not dung in the gastrointestinal tract at its rear, as has been hypothesized in the past. (Photo by Katja Schulz via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

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