Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sacred Scarab Beetle

Ah... back to normal. Though I just might splice in some more famous animals into the daily routine, Animal A Day is pretty open ended after all.
(Image Source)

Anyway, today I present to you the Sacred Scarab Beetle, a curious little bug that was likened to a god. Scarabaeus sacer is one many, many species found within the Dung Beetle superfamily,  Scarabaeoidea. One of its families alone, Scarabaeinae, contains over 5,000 species.

But we're going to talk about just one! The Sacred Scarab is a dung beetle native to the Mediterranean region and central Europe. Like all dung beetles, Sacred Scarabs consume dung, locating it with their sense of smell. Oftentimes they will roll the dung into balls to transport it to burrows for safekeeping, and these balls can become larger than the beetle itself! Females will also lay their eggs within these dung balls, and the larvae will hatch and consume their "nest."

The Sacred Scarab's dung rolling and egg-hatching activities are what created the link between them and the gods. In Egyptian mythology, Kheperi, the god of the rising sun, rolls the rising and setting sun in the same way the beetle pushes the dung. Sacred Scarabs were further associated with rebirth due to their emergence from the dung as young.
(Image Source)

Sacred Scarabs are portrayed in Egyptian art, sculpture, heiroglyphics, and in jewelry.

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