dung beetles

yes, this is the fabled scarab beetle when he's working his day job.
yes, this is the fabled scarab beetle when he’s working his day job.

the cats are impressive predators, but if you want to see some real mano-a-mano combat, you won’t do better than the lowly dung beetle. dung beetles feed on dung, and they play with their food by rolling it into balls and pushing it into tunnels that they’ve built. brooding pairs also lay their eggs in the balls of dung as protection; the dung then serves as a food source for the beetle larvae. according to wikipedia, a male dung beetle can roll up to 10 times its own weight in dung; as an interesting side note, dung beetles are the only insects that navigate at night by the position of the stars.

despite the ample quantity of dung in the serengeti, dung beetles will try to steal each others’ dung balls, and this leads to heated battles (click on each image to enlarge it):

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the battle is joined … … and the roller is victorious.
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our challenger tries again … … and again is defeated.
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this must be one hell of a ball of dung. knocked down again!