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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Food Chain for a Dung Beetle

Andrew Gelman blogs about mental structures:

...how I think of the animal kingdom. It's how we learned things in 9th grade biology. At the bottom are single-celled animals (amoebas and so forth), then gradually through the invertebrates, then the vertebrates, starting with the fish (with the sharks at the bottom because of their primitive structure), then amphibians, then reptiles (amphs are lower than reps because of being more fish-like and primitive, I think), then birds (higher because they're warm-blooded), then animals, with primates at the top and, well, you know what's the #1 primate . . .

This reminds me of a food chain, with humans at the top. If dung beetles were doing food chains, dung beetles would be at the top, with the purpose of humans and other animals being to produce dung. Or a fungi food chain, with fungi at the top, feasting on dead humans.

It's all a matter of perspective, just like this map from an Australian perspective: