You know what they say: The most beautiful things in life eat poop. Or, at least that's the case for dung beetles. One of the world's most beautiful species is the rainbow scarab, which is found in large piles (or "patties") of bison dung in the plains of Colorado. Despite its coprophagy, the rare beetle is cherished thanks to its metallic green exoskeleton that shimmers in the sunlight.
Frank Krell, curator of entomology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, has spent the last eight years collecting bison dung and studying the population of these creatures through them. Among an estimated 80,000 specimens, Krell says he has only found 15 to 20 rainbow scarabs. (The majority of insects have been brown beetles, which are the most common beetle in Colorado—but also recent arrivals to the state.)
Whether beautiful or plain, dung beetles serve an important function: They're efficient recyclers that help maintain the fertility of the soil and keep ecosystems moving. It is yet to be seen whether the population of rainbow scarab beetles will decline in the years ahead, but Krell believes that with more bison herds—and, in turn, more poop—the population will grow. You can watch the full video from National Geographic below: