Ants are known for being some of the hardest working insects around. Their organizational skills have fascinated scientists for a long time, and now a recent study shows how ants work in teams to carry heavy loads like food and objects.
A team of biologists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel has been trying to figure out how do ants manage to carry the heavy loads. They have been studying a species of ants called longhorn crazy ants and figured out how they cooperate in order to transport the heavy pieces of food back to their nest.
Ofer Feinerman, a scientist at the Department of Physics of Complex Systems at the Weizmann Institute of Science, was in charge of the team who studied the group of longhorn crazy ants and their behavior while trying to move heavy loads to their nest.
The researchers published their findings on ants’ behavior in the journal Nature Communications.
The scientists studied the position of each ant in the group and found that most of them, no matter how their antennae and vision were blocked by the load they were carrying, they kept going in the right direction without trying to steer away their movement. The study research showed that the insects lifted the piece of food and carried it to where the other ants were going.
The big question was how did the ants know in which direction to move to if they weren’t able to see or sense where the nest was. The study revealed that the ants that were not attached to the carrying group helped them find the right way, directing them to their destination.
The scientists found that one of the ants is in charge of leading the others to their nest. The “scout ant”, as the researchers call it, knows where the nest is and when it sees that the group is heading in a wrong direction carrying the food, it changes their course by grabbing the load and directing the other ants on the right path.
The rest of the ants know that they should oppose this force so they go along with it without resisting.
According to Feinerman, the study revealed that a single ant is in charge of directing the whole group of ants. Prior to this, scientists assumed that the ants worked as a big group and that’s how they knew how to carry the loads to their nest, but the new research shows that the scout ant knows which way to go and how to avoid any obstacles.
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