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7ee9b97308a40fa16f94dd778dabfa841
2010-12-09 14:07:51

When their razor-sharp mandibles wear out, leaf-cutter ants change jobs, remaining productive while letting their more efficient sisters take over cutting, say researchers from two Oregon universities. Their study -- appearing online ahead of regular publication in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology -- provides a glimpse of nature's way of providing for its displaced workers. "This study demonstrates an advantage of social living that we are familiar with -- humans that can no...

e1bec56bba348f6051d83f0bc7fefcd01
2008-11-17 09:19:28

One of the most important developments in human civilization was the practice of sustainable agriculture. But we were not the first - ants have been doing it for over 50 million years. Just as farming helped humans become a dominant species, it has also helped leaf-cutter ants become dominant herbivores, and one of the most successful social insects in nature. According to an article in the November issue of Microbiology Today, leaf-cutter ants have developed a system to try and keep their...

356e1c4b87a9dd3b367ae1b0dd110eaa1
2008-04-08 08:45:00

New study shows the age of victims determines how fire ants respond to aggressorsPretending to be dead is an effective self-defense strategy adopted by young fire ant workers under attack from neighboring colonies. This tactic makes them four times more likely to survive aggression than older workers who fight back. As a result, these young workers are able to contribute to brood care and colony growth to ensure the survival and fitness of their queen. These findings by Dr. Deby Cassill from...

8508ea26a32bd11ee99b4f58b48710ac1
2008-03-24 16:45:00

It turns out ants, like humans, are true farmers. The difference is that ants are farming fungus. Entomologists Ted Schultz and Seán Brady at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History have published a paper in the March 24 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, providing new insight into the agricultural abilities of ants and how these abilities have evolved throughout time. Using DNA sequencing, the scientists were able to construct an...


Latest Atta Reference Libraries

40_18e251273c83716513e79a1480e62c47
2005-09-12 10:19:57

The ants, one of the most successful groups of insects, are of particular interest because they form advanced colonies, and can constitute up to 15 percent of the total animal biomass of a tropical rainforest. They belong to the order Hymenoptera and are close relatives of the vespoid wasps. Ants appear in amber, found in central New Jersey, believed to be from the Cretaceous period. It is thought that they evolved from the wasps that had appeared during the Jurassic period. They are...

0_0bd3abc6102cfbf910539daa5d26705d
2005-09-07 18:11:11

Leafcutter ants are found in warmer regions of Central and South America. These remarkable social insects have evolved an advanced agricultural system. They feed on a specialized fungus that grows only in the underground chambers of the ants' nest. The ants actively cultivate their fungus, feeding it with freshly-cut vegetation and maintaining it free from pests and weeds. This is done by a symbiotic relationship with a colony of bacteria that grows on the ants that protect the fungus. The...

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Word of the Day
callithump
  • A somewhat riotous parade, accompanied with the blowing of tin horns, and other discordant noises; also, a burlesque serenade; a charivari.
'Callithump' is a back-formation of 'callithumpian,' a 'fanciful formation' according to the Oxford English Dictionary. However, the English Dialect Dictionary, says 'Gallithumpians' is a Dorset and Devon word from the 1790s that refers to 'a society of radical social reformers' or 'noisy disturbers of elections and meetings.'
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