“Can’t get enough of the poo”

The University of the Watwatersrand writes, on its web site:

Can’t get enough of the poo
BY ERNA VAN WYK
24 April 2015

“Tonight you will hear about small animals that play around in poo.”

With this, Professor Marcus Byrne started off his inaugural lecture delivered in the Senate Room at Wits University on Tuesday, 14 April 2015, following his promotion last year to Personal Professor in Zoology in the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences.

Thirty years ago he encountered this enigmatic insect that would “entertain” him, and in turn let him to entertain many others, in the name of science: the dung beetle.

It’s all about the poo

Since he joined Wits in 1987 Byrne had used dung beetles effectively as a vehicle to show evolution at its best. “It is a particularly good vehicle because of its relationship with poo,” Byrne chuckled. “It simply loves its poo and cannot get enough of it.”

“There are over 800 species in South Africa, 2 000 in Africa and 6 000 in the world. And only about 10% roll dung!” Byrne said….

Science makes up for our flaws

As a child growing up in the UK with its “limited fauna”, Byrne’s love for science was sparked by watching the great science communicator, David Attenborough, on television. In his own right, Byrne is an exceptional science communicator. His TEDx talk has attracted over 900 000 hits and with his team was awarded the 2013 Ig Nobel Prize for Astronomy and Biology….

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