Figuratively, that is, not literally. The period of research is now at hand, in which I comb the world for dung-related science, facts, figures, anecdotes and myths.
To the non-entomologist (the non-coleopterist even) the attractions of faeces may seem unintelligible, but if fastidious squeamishness can be set aside, it turns out that dung beetles are highly attractive and captivating creatures. The task they (and other insects) do in hygienically recycling nutrients is a hugely important part of grassland ecology; the behaviours of dung rolling and subterranean nesting are fascinating, and the elaborate head and thoracic horns of the often sexually dimorphic beetles can be truly bizarre. And there is much else besides.
I first tried to write a book about dung nearly 20 years ago, but the children’s book publishers, who were happy to entertain titles on rainforests, rivers, seashore and minibeasts, baulked at the notion of excrement, claiming the American market was too Puritan.
I remained optimistic though and a recent proposal has been accepted. The Amateur Scatologist – A Natural History of Dung is now in preparation.
Watch this space for more droppings.