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Flesh-eating bugs: new research shows how carrion beetles turn death into life

By Tancredi Caruso, Associate Professor, School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin
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It was Halloween and the discussion had inevitably turned to death – and flesh-eating zombies. I had just finished lunch at a “research away day” when I got caught up in a conversation about carrion beetles with a new colleague of mine, Sheena Cotter.

The carrion beetles (also known as burying beetles or sexton beetles), which Sheena researches, are masters of death: they breed in the dead carcass of a mouse or a bird and, together with their larval brood, reduce it to bones and skin in a very short time. Then, a new cohort of beetles disperse. I confess the thought of dead corpses…

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