Ant Encounters

This presentation paired very nicely with our evolution unit. Deborah Gordon talked at length about the process of understanding ant’s biological adaptions, particularly amongst different species of ant, such as specific species’ ideal response to food shortages and flooding (E. African ant v. Island ants). Another thing I found interesting was the way Dr. Gordon described the ant’s social interaction. Because they are blind, the ants interact through the form of a hydrocarbon which is produced on their bodies, which can give off a variety of information, both about the ant itself (health) or something even more pressing (Food shortage, danger), much like dogs secrete oil from sacs near the anus. Furthermore, I thought it was very interesting to note that ants are quick to adapt to environmental change, as they will switch “jobs” (maintenance, forager, patroller, midden worker)  pretty readily, and also that the mating process was nothing like I imagined; I thought that the queen would constantly produce offspring. The entire process of egg-laying, waiting, and then flying over to a whole different area seems very complex and socially developed, which I did not expect from an insect.

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