Image: Bernard Dupont, Wikimedia Commons

A viral video posted by the Invertebrate Studies Institute showing a dung beetle rolling a dead lizard across the desert has scientists scratching their heads in disbelief.

Dung beetles are unusual creatures remarked for their dung transportation capacities. They are known as the world’s strongest animal — capable of lifting more than 1,000 times their body weight. 

While moving dung is not unusual for the species, rolling a dead lizard around certainly is.

The video was filmed by a resident in Nushki, a small town in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. There are two subfamilies of dung beetles that contain more than 5,000 species. Experts have surmised that the beetle responsible for the lizard moving feat possibly belongs to the Coprophanaeus lancifer species, due to their predisposition for burying carcasses.

Dung beetles are capable of moving and burying mass quantities of dung 250 times heavier than their own body weight. While the majority of the time the object of attention is excrement, in rare cases dung beetles have been known to move and feed on other animal matter.

While uncommon, this behavior could be stretched to include a dead animal. Professor Emily Baird out of Lund University has extensively studied dung beetle behavior and theorizes the dung beetle was likely to bury and then consume its large passenger over time.

She stated to Earth Touch News Network, “As there was no other beetle, it is very unlikely that eggs would be laid so it is more likely just a good source of food! I have seen a beetle burying a snake once in order to eat it but the snake was too big for the beetle to move so the beetle just dug a hole under the body.”

Why did the dung beetle roll the dead lizard? Likely to find a good place to bury and eat it.

Image: Wikimedia Commons