Burying beetle credit T. Houslay

Parental care in burying beetles

To celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month the Museum is sharing the stories of 27 inspirational women, alongside the animals they work with the most. Among the stories is that of the Director of the Museum, Professor of Evolutionary Biology, Rebecca Kilner.


Professor Rebecca Kilner

Director, Museum of Zoology

Research in my lab investigates how evolution works. We focus on burying beetles, but the principles we discover could apply to any animal. Pairs of beetles breed on a dead mouse or bird. They strip the corpse of fur or feathers, roll the flesh into a ball and then bury it in a shallow grave, where it becomes an edible nest for their young. Both parents then feed the larvae and defend them from attack.

Burying beetles are common in the woods around Cambridge but, we have discovered, they have evolved to be subtly different from one woodland to the next. We use experimental evolution in the lab to identify the conditions that have caused these natural populations to evolve in different ways.”  

Find out more about this research on the Kilner Group website


An equal world is an enabled world.
#IWD2020  #EachforEqual

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.