Somewhere near you,
an animal is defecating. In fact, each day, the animal kingdom
produces roughly enough dung to match the volume of water pouring
over the Victoria Falls. So why isn’t the planet covered
in the stuff? You can thank the humble dung beetle
for eating up the excess. Capable of burying 250 times
their body weight in a single night, these valiant insects make
quick work of an endless stream of feces. Over 7,000 known species of dung beetle
run clean-up duty across six continents —everywhere except Antarctica. A dung beetle’s first task
is to locate dung. Some live on the anal regions
of larger animals, ready to leap off when they defecate. Others sniff out feces
that animals leave behind. A pile of elephant dung can attract
4,000 beetles in 15 minutes. So once a beetle finds dung, it must work quickly to secure
some of the bounty for itself. Most dung beetle species fall into one
of three main groups: rollers, tunnelers, and dwellers. Dung rollers sculpt a ball of dung,
and using their back legs, quickly roll it away from competitors. Potential partners jump on the ball, and once the ball-maker
has selected their mate, the pair dig their dung ball
into the soil. Once it’s been buried, the female lays
a single egg within the dung ball. Tunnelers have a different approach. Digging underneath a pat,
some drag dung down into the soil and pack it into clumps
known as brood balls, dung balls, or dung “sausages,”
depending on their shape and size. Male tunnelers sport a spectacular
array of horns to fight each other
for control of these tunnels, which they then defend
until the female’s laid her egg. Some male tunnelers avoid the fray
by masquerading as hornless females and sneaking into tunnels to mate
while the guardians’ heads are turned. The third group of dung beetles, dwellers, take the most straightforward approach, laying their eggs
directly into a dung pat. This makes their offspring
more vulnerable to predation than those of the tunnelers and rollers. As the larvae feed, they riddle
the dung pat with tunnels, leaving remains that are quickly colonized
by bacteria and fungi and weathered away. Inside a tunnel, ball, or pat,
once the larvae hatch, they consume the dung
before metamorphosing into a pupa and then an adult beetle. Besides clearing dung,
the actions of these beetles have considerable ecological importance. For one, they serve as secondary
seed dispersers. Dung from monkeys, wild pigs, and other animals is riddled with seeds
from the fruits they eat. When beetles bury their dung balls, they inadvertently protect these seeds
from predators and increase the likelihood
they’ll germinate. The advantage is so great
that one South African plant has evolved to produce seeds that look
and smell like dung to trick beetles into burying them. Dung beetles also play important roles
in agricultural systems. Livestock, like cows and sheep,
produce huge amounts of dung, which contains nutrients
that can benefit plants. The beetles break up the dung
and tunnel it deep into the soil, bringing the nutrients into close contact
with plant roots. Their services to farmers have been valued
at $380 million a year in the US and £367 million a year in the UK. Dung beetles can even help us battle
global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions
associated with farming. Microbes living in oxygen-poor
livestock dung produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas. But beetles oxygenate pats when
they tunnel into them, preventing the microbes
from producing methane. The dung beetle spreads seeds, helps farmers, and fights climate change —and accomplishes it all
simply by doing its business. Maybe next time you come across
some dung in the forest or a field, you’ll be tempted to take a closer look.

Why isn’t the world covered in poop? – Eleanor Slade and Paul Manning
Tagged on:                                                     

100 thoughts on “Why isn’t the world covered in poop? – Eleanor Slade and Paul Manning

  • March 26, 2018 at 3:12 pm
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    Learn about the fascinating ways that animals — including the dung beetle — have evolved to defend themselves by reading Douglas J. Emlen's "Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle": https://amzn.to/2DVOLRn. According to Emlen, "This is a book about extreme weapons, structures so gargantuan and bizarre they look like they shouldn't be possible." Each book sold through this link also helps support TED-Ed's nonprofit mission!

    Reply
  • July 20, 2019 at 11:20 am
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    3:04 HMMMMM

    Reply
  • July 20, 2019 at 6:17 pm
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    TED-Ed, asking the big questions.

    Reply
  • July 20, 2019 at 11:48 pm
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    Wow!! They are awesome😄

    Reply
  • July 21, 2019 at 6:20 am
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    But but…

    don’t they poop too? So where does that go?

    Reply
  • July 21, 2019 at 8:36 am
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    What happens to their poop

    Reply
  • July 21, 2019 at 6:30 pm
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    i asked a question to myself then youtube recommends vox's video . coincidence

    Reply
  • July 22, 2019 at 9:53 am
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    long story short, poop is biodegradable

    Reply
  • July 23, 2019 at 11:16 am
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    Antarctida" am i a joke to ya

    Reply
  • July 25, 2019 at 1:08 am
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    Thanks beetle.

    Reply
  • July 25, 2019 at 5:53 pm
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    All hail the Dong Beetle!

    Reply
  • July 26, 2019 at 2:23 pm
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    least appreciated species.

    Reply
  • July 27, 2019 at 7:26 am
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    Me:
    oh so thats where the poop of my cows in Minecraft go

    Reply
  • July 27, 2019 at 3:47 pm
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    Will the earth ever run out of supplies?

    Reply
  • July 27, 2019 at 4:31 pm
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    We appreciate you!

    Reply
  • July 27, 2019 at 6:08 pm
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    Bees and Beetles saving the world.

    Reply
  • July 28, 2019 at 9:17 am
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    Hmmmm you mean
    People
    Order
    Our
    Pattys

    From spongebob squarepants😗😗😗POOP😀😀😀

    Reply
  • July 28, 2019 at 6:28 pm
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    P O O P E R S C O O P E R

    Reply
  • July 29, 2019 at 2:48 am
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    Wait a second… do they poop?

    Reply
  • July 29, 2019 at 10:37 am
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    2:10 top 10 anime betrayals

    Reply
  • July 30, 2019 at 4:03 am
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    Because white people invented toilets, sewers, septic tanks, modern plumbing and running water faucets.
    #proudtobewhite

    Reply
  • July 30, 2019 at 5:36 am
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    Why am I watching this?

    Reply
  • July 30, 2019 at 5:35 pm
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    What is that plant's name?

    Reply
  • July 31, 2019 at 5:23 am
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    ….
    Water

    Reply
  • July 31, 2019 at 6:54 pm
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    How 'bout India?

    Reply
  • July 31, 2019 at 7:42 pm
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    Next time you might wanna have a closer look…LOL😂

    Reply
  • August 1, 2019 at 4:07 pm
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    Another one's poop is another one's food

    Reply
  • August 1, 2019 at 11:34 pm
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    Purpose

    Reply
  • August 2, 2019 at 2:47 pm
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    على بادى ….

    Reply
  • August 3, 2019 at 4:42 pm
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    ok but do they eat their own poop

    Reply
  • August 4, 2019 at 1:31 am
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    Who would’ve thought…..

    Reply
  • August 4, 2019 at 2:33 pm
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    Thinking if I'm living on earth!!

    Reply
  • August 4, 2019 at 6:52 pm
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    Why im crying

    Reply
  • August 5, 2019 at 7:53 pm
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    I ate chocolate flavored poop because I thought it was chocolate.

    Reply
  • August 6, 2019 at 3:14 am
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    Gotta love these niggas

    Reply
  • August 6, 2019 at 9:22 am
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    The animation of this video was especially nice

    Reply
  • August 6, 2019 at 8:08 pm
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    but dont they poop too????

    Reply
  • August 7, 2019 at 8:48 am
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    They're cleaners. Yay

    Reply
  • August 7, 2019 at 12:09 pm
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    1:24 Roller: Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down. Never gonna roll around and desert you!

    Reply
  • August 7, 2019 at 3:54 pm
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    I can smell this video

    Reply
  • August 7, 2019 at 4:04 pm
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    i swear i can smell it

    Reply
  • August 7, 2019 at 6:09 pm
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    What if they go extinct

    Reply
  • August 7, 2019 at 7:20 pm
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    Not the hero we need but a hero we want

    Reply
  • August 8, 2019 at 4:04 am
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    I was just watching minecraft gameplay, howd i end up here

    Reply
  • August 8, 2019 at 4:42 am
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    Interesting

    Reply
  • August 8, 2019 at 7:08 am
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    The circle of life

    Reply
  • August 8, 2019 at 7:44 am
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    very good information, thank you so much

    Reply
  • August 8, 2019 at 8:56 am
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    Ahhh my poop dealer

    Reply
  • August 8, 2019 at 9:39 am
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    DOMA DOMA DOMA DOMA

    Reply
  • August 8, 2019 at 9:13 pm
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    not the hero we deserve but the one we need

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 12:50 am
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    I'm not sure whether to be proud or ashamed my parents named me beetle

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 3:05 am
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    You'll be tempted to take a closer look.

    Me: SNNNNNIIIIIFFFFF
    that's a good load of poo my friend
    SNNNIFFFFFF

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 3:31 am
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    What a sh%#ty life 💁

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 3:47 am
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    Og poop dealers

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 6:03 am
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    I just ate why I started watching this

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 6:42 am
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    I'm watching this in bathroom

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 7:33 am
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    dunk beetles for live!

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 8:22 am
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    Well it kinda is

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 8:25 am
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    You could've just said because bugs collect it.

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 8:30 am
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    Im watching this while eating

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 11:41 am
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    The perfect video while eating dinner.
    Thank you, Youtube algorithm.

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 11:41 am
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    The perfect video while eating dinner.
    Thank you, Youtube algorithm.

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 4:38 pm
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    Not all cape wear heroes

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 8:02 pm
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    Why is youtube recommanding this while im taking a dump–

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 8:42 pm
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    So Antarctica is covered in poo🐧🐧

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 10:50 pm
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    This world 🌍 will forever amaze me. 😀

    Reply
  • August 10, 2019 at 12:57 am
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    The question is…..

    What do they poop ?🤔🤔

    Reply
  • August 10, 2019 at 4:22 am
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    So how much do we have to pay them?

    Reply
  • August 10, 2019 at 8:00 am
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    Wait what if the bettle poop
    Will the poop be used by the bettle
    THEY HAVE ENDLESS SUPPLY OF FOOD
    they just eat their own poop

    Reply
  • August 10, 2019 at 9:38 am
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    Who said poof isnt delicious? 😅

    Reply
  • August 10, 2019 at 4:12 pm
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    Bounty…….😂😂

    Reply
  • August 10, 2019 at 5:06 pm
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    Then why does the antartic not covered in poop?

    Reply
  • August 10, 2019 at 5:32 pm
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    Oh wow never thought about that

    Reply
  • August 10, 2019 at 5:38 pm
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    "Why isn't the world covered in poop"

    I don't need sleep, I need answers

    Reply
  • August 10, 2019 at 5:50 pm
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    We need more of these beetles. Our everyday hero for fighting methane

    Reply
  • August 11, 2019 at 12:13 am
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    Me: ugh, I need to go to sleep…
    Youtube: Hey! Want to know why the world isn't covered in poop?

    Reply
  • August 11, 2019 at 1:24 am
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    Everything I needed to know about poop

    Reply
  • August 11, 2019 at 2:07 am
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    And get pink eye

    Reply
  • August 11, 2019 at 2:08 am
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    I think I found my new favourite animal

    Reply
  • August 11, 2019 at 2:58 am
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    I m watching this while pooping…

    Reply
  • August 11, 2019 at 7:24 am
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    You can just put, The life cylcle of beetles

    Reply
  • August 11, 2019 at 9:11 am
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    They make love on top of poop bed

    Reply
  • August 11, 2019 at 9:57 am
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    TED:How to cure cancer
    Also TED: why isnt the world covered in poop

    Reply
  • August 11, 2019 at 4:12 pm
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    Poop disintegrates to form mud thats why

    Reply
  • August 11, 2019 at 7:31 pm
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    It is, but its in the form of humans

    Reply
  • August 11, 2019 at 11:30 pm
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    *watches while pooping…..

    Reply
  • August 12, 2019 at 1:10 am
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    I can't believe YouTube made me watch a pizza commercial before allowing me to watch this

    Reply
  • August 12, 2019 at 10:16 am
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    Because we clean it.

    Reply
  • August 12, 2019 at 1:18 pm
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    Look mom I found a cute beetle

    Reply
  • August 12, 2019 at 3:08 pm
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    So they have been stealing the cure to autism

    Reply
  • August 12, 2019 at 3:55 pm
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    I watched this on the toilet

    Reply
  • August 12, 2019 at 9:45 pm
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    Das because my poop dealer got most of it bruh

    Reply
  • August 12, 2019 at 10:51 pm
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    The world is covered in poop….it’s called grass

    Reply
  • August 12, 2019 at 11:19 pm
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    not all heros are big

    Reply
  • August 13, 2019 at 3:52 am
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    Triggered indians being whooosh

    Reply
  • August 13, 2019 at 4:29 am
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    Hear that guys, we have a hero

    Reply
  • August 13, 2019 at 5:50 am
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    Antarctica :am i jock to you? 😅😂

    Reply
  • August 13, 2019 at 7:42 am
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    Lol Suddenly I remember about the bug that always carry poop in Larva cartoon 🤣

    Reply
  • August 13, 2019 at 9:32 am
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    👌👌👌👌

    Reply

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