The WildLife: Dung Beetles & Weaponry, Part I, Doug Emlen


Doug Emlen, a University of Montana biology professor, reveals the strange and endearing characteristics of dung beetles. In this first part of a two-part interview, Dr. Emlen tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the biology of dung beetles and what the diverse sizes and shapes of dung beetle horns and armaments reveals about their lifestyle. Doug Emlen is a professor of biology at the University of Montana and an expert on the evolution and development of bizarre and extreme shapes in insects. While he initially resisted the idea of studying dung beetles, a failure doing fieldwork for his PhD forced him to change his tune. Now, he’s a dung beetle aficionado – and you may be too after listening to the fascinating life of this strange group of creatures. Dr. Emlen was always interested in animal armament and became even more interested after studying a species of dung beetle in Panama that specialized in howler monkey scat. Since then, he broadened his research to dung beetles all over the world and has noticed interesting patterns in their weaponry. Now, he’s focusing his research on the evolutionary forces that make animal weapons, from dung beetle horns to elk antlers to rhino horns, so diverse. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on June 7, 2010.