All of the following are taken from the Wikipedia article on ants. Things I never knew.
- There are more than 12,000 species of ants with more diversity of species in the tropics.
- Ants are not native to Hawaii.
- Ants evolved from waspoids about 150 million years ago.
- Ants lack lungs and a heart; their central nervous system is mostly a column of nerves, similar to the spinal column in humans.
- In addition to their compound eyes, they also have three small "oceli" on the top of their heads for detecting light and dark. They can aee polarized light and use it for geolocating themselves.
- It is estimated that, pound for pound, they constitute something between 15% and 25% of all terrestrial animal biomass.
- The genetic system in ants is "haplodiploidy" which means there are no sex chromosomes, and the sex is entirely determined by the number of chromosomes: males are haploid and females are diploid.
- Ants communicate through chemical signals sensed in the antennae, and unlike us they are able to smell in stereo and use that information spatially.
- Ant males have no fathers and no sons; their genetic material is entirely derived from their mothers.
- Most ants bite for defense but fire ants are unique in having a poison sac. Jack Jumper Ants found in - - - Australia have stings that cause several fatalities yearly.
- This one is a little scary: "ants may be the only group of animals besides primates and some other mammals in which interactive teaching behavior has been observed".
- Ant societies exhibit a wide variety of diversity. Some, like Protestants, are practically solitary; others are well-known for their aggressive warlike ways. War seems to be perfectly natural and endemic among some ant species and sugar ants are famous for their aggressive sidewalk battles which may leave thousands of ants dead. Some enslave others; very similarly to the Ottoman Emperors, Amazon ants are incapable of feeding themselves and must rely on captured slaves from other species to survive.
- Some ants farm fungus and some farm aphids.
- Many species of birds exhibit a peculiar behavior called "anting", in which they pick up and drop ants on their wings, which is not fully understood.
- Siafu ants function as natural insecticides: they will completely clear a field of insect pests and then move on.
Monday morning links
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