Monday, May 1, 2017

"Paramedic" ants save the wounded in termite wars - BIODIVERSITY

Like people, ants are often at war. The matabele ant, a small black species native to sub-Saharan Africa, often clashes with its favorite food—termites.
Each time hungry ants crack open a termite mound and dive down into its shadowy depths, they risk dying in battle with their potential prey.

But a new study reveals the ants have a never-before-seen strategy that helps the colony weather wartime casualties. Unlike all other ants, Megaponera analis soldiers carry their injured comrades home.
While this may seem like a small courtesy to the individuals being rescued, these tiny heroics add up, says study leader Erik T. Frank, a myrmecologist at the University Würzburg in Germany.

"There is a clear benefit for the colony,” says Frank, whose study was published April 12 in the journal Science Advances. "These injured ants are able to participate again in future raids and remain a functioning member of the colony."

What’s more, Frank and colleagues estimate these ant colonies are 30 percent larger than they would be if the ants left their comrades for dead.


Story via NatGeo:

Video part of the original paper.

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