And the plant benefits from this deception: The researchers observed dung beetles -- which are known to roll up balls of feces and save them for later meals -- rolling and burying the seeds as if they were actual fecal matter.
It's an especially impressive example of a plant evolving to rely on an insect for help, because the beetles don't get anything out of the deal — they're just duped into burying "food" they'll never be able to eat, and that will grow into a new plant as a result of their labor. And it's no small thing to trick a dung beetle, because the creatures have a sharp sense of smell.
“I guess that a mutant individual, which had some chemical on the seed coat, attracted the odd beetle and the seed was buried," study author Jeremy Midgley of the University of Cape Town told Discovery News. "This plant then did very well because fewer seeds were discovered and eaten by small mammals, and that fires damaged fewer of the buried seeds."
However the stinky deception began, it's evolved to be a major win for this plant.