Scientists say that dung beetles have developed a complex method of navigation that relies on the position of the sun, the moon and the stars. It’s hoped that understanding the beetles’ navigational skills could eventually aid the development of driverless vehicles. Here is our environment correspondent Matt McGrath.
Previous studies have shown that these beetles navigate by the light of the milky way. But now researchers say they understand how the process works. The beetles record an image of the sky while dancing on top of the dung ball including the information that humans just can’t see, such as the colors of cosmic light. When the beetles start rolling away their manure, they compare their mental snapshot of the sky in front of them and use that comparison to navigate in a straight line. The scientists say that this ability is unique to these dung beetles and they believe it could have implications for the designer of robots or rather autonomous vehicles.
That was Matt McGrath.
One of the last human links to the 19th century has died. Susannah Mushatt Jones was born on a farm in the American state of Alabama in 1899. She’s just died in New York at the age of 116.
“A remarkable lifetime of exceptional achievement”, comments that US congress would normally reserve for a great statesman. But a long life often draws out reflections on how far a nation has progressed as a whole. And Susannah Mushatt Jones lived through many many changes. The sharecropper’ s life she was born into in rural Alabama was incredibly tough. When cotton prices slumped as they often did, Susannah and her ten brothers and sisters would go hungry. But resilience and good genes ran in the family. Her grandmother, an ex-slave is said to have lived until she was 117. It was the social upheaval and economic boom after the first world war that gave Susannah and many other African Americans the chance to move north in search of a better life, away from the entrenched racial discrimination of the South. She moved to New York in 1922 where she found work as a housekeeper for seven dollars a week. Remarkably, she was able to save some of her salary. She set up a college scholarship fund for African American students at her high school back in Alabama. Life there was still largely segregated along racial lines. But two year before she retired, after President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, Susannah became active in her Brooklyn community. She ran a tenant patrol team well into her 80s.