Scarab , a black beetle. It is also called the Egyptian sacred scarab because it is believed to be the beetle held sacred by the ancient Egyptians. The scarab is little more than one inch (2.5 cm) long. It feeds primarily on cow dung, which it rolls with a tumbling motion into a ball much larger than itself. For these reasons it is also called a tumblebug or dung beetle.

The beetle digs a burrow in the ground, buries itself and the ball, and feeds. After mating, the female deposits each of her two to four eggs in a mass of dung. The eggs hatch into larvae that are surrounded by their own food supply. When the larva becomes an adult beetle, it digs its way up out of the ground.

To the ancient Egyptians, the scarab symbolized the sun god Khepera. The sharp projections on the scarab's head represented the rays of the sun. The beetle's habit of disappearing into the earth and later reappearing symbolized immortality and resurrection.

The Egyptians carved scarab forms out of metal and stones to use as seals for documents and as charms and amulets. They inscribed the undersides with words, images, and symbols to keep away evil. Scarab amulets were placed upon mummies to ensure the rebirth of the souls of the dead.

The scarab is Scarabaeus sacer of the scarab family, Scarabaeidae, of the order Coleoptera.