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Nature’s Garbage Men

June 8, 2013

I ran across this video on youtube and I felt like posting it in honor of one of the most unappreciated creatures on earth. The other day at work I saw a bunch of ants collecting on a piece of food somebody had dropped outside. There wasn’t enough of them to move it off to wherever they would have wanted to move it, but it got me thinking. Where was that somewhere? How far away could it possibly be? I obviously didn’t have much time to think about this due to work, but have been considering it ever since.

I’m sure the species I saw was different than this African breed featured in the video, and they definitely have a shorter season to build here in Northern Illinois. I’ve always seen those little donut piles of dirt on the soil surface but have never really looked beyond that. I’ve known that they have their place, and are some of the most efficient eating and moving machines that the planet has ever known. To me, their most fascinating attribute is the fact that they are social creatures who communicate through chemical signals while having no brain. How is this possible?

If you’ve ever tried to get something done with a large group of people you know that often two heads are better than one. But than add ten, twenty, a hundred heads all thinking about how achieve a common goal and things usually becomes a mess! Egos and selfishness get in the way, everyone thinks they have the best way to an end and wants to prove to the others that found the quickest most efficient way to get it done. Also you’ll find that there are those who leach and contribute nothing original, and just strive to carry out the wishes of others.

Maybe it’s better they don’t have brains? There has never been a clearer example of one for all and all for one than here with the ant colony. They think and move as one and by doing so accomplish impossible tasks with the human equivalent of bare hands. In this video it took men weeks to uncover the ant city that lye under tons of earth. They even had the assistance of mechanical diggers. In the colony, the ants had gardens to grow their own food, air shafts to regulate temperature, super highways for transportation, and their collective work moved around forty tons of soil. This is the equivalent of building the Great Wall of China. The lowest estimates are that it took humans around three centuries to accomplish this. The ants that built this did it in far less time.  Simply amazing.

English: A section of the Great Wall of China ...

English: A section of the Great Wall of China between Simatai and Jinshanling Deutsch: Ein Abschnitt der chinesischen Mauer zwischen Simatai und Jinshanling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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