Ant colonies show remarkably coordinated behavior, despite lacking any direction from a well-informed central controller. Each worker instead applies simple decision rules to limited knowledge, and exchanges information with her neighbors using rudimentary cues and signals. From this process emerge the construction of complex nests, collective decisions among food sources, the adaptive allocation of labor across tasks, and many other group accomplishments. To identify the underlying decision rules requires a detailed description of the behavior of individually identifiable ants. The ant species Temnothorax curvispinosus is especially useful for this kind of study, because they form small colonies of only a few hundred workers, and they thrive in thin, glass-walled laboratory nests, facilitating detailed video records of their behavior. Most importantly, as shown in these images, workers can be individually marked with tiny drops of paint. Ants are first immobilized with carbon dioxide, and then marked with a distinctive pattern of four drops. They soon emerge unharmed from narcosis, and retain their marks for several months to years. This approach has been particularly useful in showing how emigrating colonies can choose the best among several new homes, even when few individual workers are aware of all the options under consideration.
Credit: Stephen Pratt
Retiree Walter R. Tschinkel is an entomologist and former professor of Biological Science at Florida State University. He recognizes ants as “some of nature’s grand architects” and, curious to understand their self-created habitats, devised a clever (if cruel) way to do it: By pouring molten aluminum down into the hole.
Unsurprisingly, the ants die in the process. But after the aluminum cools and Tschinkel has completed a meticulous excavation, he unearths these wondrous, chandelier-esque shapes revealing the alien architectures of the colony.
Text and Image via Core77
In the documentary bellow you will find the largest sacrificial concrete cast in history (around 41:00). Here you will be transported into the world of ants through the eyes of Bert Hölldobler, a world authority on these amazing animals.
According to the “original” post German description, this video was shot in Malaysia.
To the biologist Edward O. Wilson, the Metropolitan Museum of Art encapsulates some of the conflicting impulses natural selection has instilled in humans: the innate drive for expression that spurs some of us to make art, the selfishness that motivates others to earn the riches needed to collect it, and the altruism that compels the donation of collections for the public good — as long as the donors’ names are inscribed on the walls too.
But asked to imagine the museum from the perspective of ants, whose intricate social world he has built a towering reputation by studying, Dr. Wilson painted a scene that was less a lesson in evolution than a chaotic free-for-all.
“To them the crowds would just be a flank-to-flank herd of enormous elephants you have to dodge around,” he said with a boyish giggle from the museum’s teeming steps during a recent visit to New York to promote his 27th book, “The Social Conquest of Earth,” which is being published Monday by Liveright. “I don’t think ants would have any aesthetic or intellectual interest in the museum, though they would certainly find a happy home in Central Park.”
Excerpt of an article by JENNIFER SCHUESSLER at NYT. Continue HERE
Produced by Ollie Palmer, the Ant Ballet is a 2-year investigation into the parallels between human and ant communication which culminated in the world’s first ballet to exclusively feature ants. It is currently in Phase I of IV.
Using synthesized pheromones (Z9:16Ald Hexadecanol) and highly invasive Linepthinema humile Argentine ants, a robotic arm lays pheromone powder trails that cause the ants to behave in a different way to their usual foraging. Performances in late 2012 will feature mass colony movement testing, and the first intercontinental ant ballet.
The machine is part of a larger study of paranoia, control systems, insects and architecture.
The Ant Ballet will be installed in ZSL London Zoo’s BUGS zone with simulated ants until June 2012, and at FutureEverything festival in Manchester from the 16th – 19th May. The first live Ant Ballet performance will take place as part of Pestival in Sao Paulo later in the year.
Pestival aims to initiate a cultural shift in the way people think, moving them towards a more integrated way of looking at the natural world. Pestival’s lasting legacy is to forge new working relationships between disciplines, communities and species. Pestival says “Insectes Sans Frontières”.
Pestival believes insects are critical to human life on Earth. With over a million insect species, they are the most diverse group of animals on Earth. And yet insects are frequently misunderstood, reviled or, at best, ignored by the majority of the human population.
Pestival has set out to challenge existing stereotypes about insects and to give them their rightful place, for good and bad (vectors and pollinators), in our collective cultural consciousness.
François Vautier: Five years ago, I installed an ant colony inside my old scanner that allowed me to scan in high definition this ever evolving microcosm (animal, vegetable and mineral). The resulting clip is a close-up examination of how these tiny beings live in this unique ant farm. I observed how decay and corrosion slowly but surely invaded the internal organs of the scanner. Nature gradually takes hold of this completely synthetic environment.
The ants are still alive : the process will continue…
Part of the WORLD EXPO Shanghai 2010, presented by “OPEN THIS END”
Music : Franks – Infected Mushroom.