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Dung Beetles as Canaries: How They Serve as Environmental Sentinels

Tue Sep 26, 18:00 - Tue Sep 26, 19:00

Inside Out Centre for the Arts


Join us at the Inside Out Centre for the Arts for an evening with internationally acclaimed etymologist and Professor Marcus Byrne as he delves into the captivating world of dung beetles in a remarkable talk that promises to leave you with a enriched perspective on these remarkable creatures and their profound impact on our lives.

In this thought-provoking presentation, Professor Byrne, celebrated for his groundbreaking work, will take you on an enthralling journey using stunning pictures and videos. You will discover how dung beetles have quietly shaped human civilization for millennia, but also how our actions and decisions now affect these incredible insects.

Drawing on the latest research, he will unveil the intricate lifecycle of dung beetles, from their dietary preferences to the astonishing way some of them navigate home by using the Milky Way , all while facing the challenges of modern human environments and artificial lights.

By attending this talk, you'll gain a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between dung beetles and humanity, both in the past and in the contemporary world. You'll leave with a newfound appreciation for these enigmatic creatures and a heightened awareness of the environmental issues surrounding them.

About Professor Marcus Byrne

Professor Marcus Byrne is a zoologist who has been a member of the School of Animal Plant and Environmental Sciences at Wits University since 1986, where he teaches zoology and entomology. He conducts research on insects used to control invasive alien plants. He also works on orientation and navigation in dung beetles to understand how small brains solve complex problems.

Byrne has been fascinated by these enigmatic animals for more than 30 years, after first being introduced to them as biological control agents of dung breeding flies in Australia. Since then, he has collaborated with many scientists from around the world to unpick the evolutionary threads of their biology, woven into the bodies and behaviour of these most industrious of scarabs. He now appreciates why the ancient Egyptians elevated the dung beetle to the status of a god.

Professor Byrne was a recipient of the 2013 Ig Nobel Prize for Biology/Astronomy, recognizing his discovery that dung beetles navigate by the Milky Way. Beyond research, Professor Byrne is a prolific author and speaker with over 60 papers in esteemed journals, a captivating TED Talk speaker with over 1.5 million views, and a co-author of "Dance of the Dung Beetles: Their Role in Our Changing World."

He is also committed to science outreach, having established the "Yebo Gogga" insect exhibition, which has engaged over 50,000 visitors, primarily schoolchildren. In 2015, he received the Excellence in Science Engagement Award for his outstanding contributions to public engagement with science, solidifying his legacy as a visionary in the field of zoology and entomology.



Dung Beetles as Canaries: How They Serve as Environmental Sentinels
Inside Out Centre for the Arts
48 Jan Smuts Ave, Forest Town, Johannesburg, 2193
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