The emergent architect of an ant city

March 17, 2011 | By | Reply More

Check out this terrific video called “Ants – Nature’s Secret Power.” It is a study of ants, of the elaborate miniature cities of ants, and the collective architect that designs these exquisite cities. Ant experts Bert Holldobler provides commentary regarding these highly coordinated super-organisms. In the clip below, scientist pore tons of concrete into a huge underground ant colony in order to study the structure, and it is surreal.

You can view the entire video at Hulu. watch as the ants repel a bear attack at the 5 minute mark, and then watch these same ants overwhelm an entire bee hive to obtain honey. Watch them maintaining their own domesticated animals (including mealy bugs) at the 8 minute mark.

I learned that ants evolved from wasps about 100 million years ago. The males’ only job is to mate with the queen. In some species males can be used to fertilized the queen many years after they have died. All of the workers are female. All ant species function as superorganisms. Specialization among highly coordinated ant in Argentina is discussed at the 18 minute mark.  This documentary comments often on the chemical communication signals exchanged by ants (e.g., at the 37 minute mark).  And check out the fungus gardens maintained by some ants (43 minute) through the use of elaborate air conditioning vents.     The above excerpt regarding an ant colony excavation can be found at the 54 minute mark of the full video.


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Category: nature, Science

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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