Re: Did Dung Beetles Kill The Mushroom?

Anders Sandberg (
Thu, 24 Jul 1997 12:41:28 +0200 (MET DST)

On Wed, 23 Jul 1997, Guru George wrote:

> >Thats interesting, the only thing that can be said is maybe dung beetles
> >werent around 100,000 years ago. The theory is that mushrooms grew in
> >shorter and shorter supply until there was none left, maybe this is due to
> >the dung beetle.
> >
> Hey now *there's* a thought! Does anyone here know enough biology/ecology
> to comment?

I certainly don't know enough, but I think the beetles were around
long before that. I base this on the fact that there exist related
scarabeoid beetles in quite remote climates (e.g. here in Sweden we
have the tordyvel [don't know its latin name]) and continents (all of
them except antarctica) which suggest that the family has been around
for several millions of years. I just found a reference
that suggest their mutual ancestor Aphrodiites was around in the
lower jurassic. They seem to have dealt with dinosaur dung just as
well as elephant dung.

I also think it the beetles form an integral part of the svannah
ecosystem; without them the dung would not fertilize the soil as
quickly and the open grasslands would not be possible (note the neat
loop here: grasslands suit grazers, grazers produce dung, dung helps
the beetles and makes the grass possible; once started it is

So, I think the dung beetles have an alibi.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y