Did it ever occur to you that the ant colony is similar to neurons in the human brain? If not, now you will hardly be able not to think about it. If you carefully observe these insects, you will notice that each ant behaves as a single neuron in the brain. Neurons are unique because each individual neuron has a special memory, but a collective work of nerve cells in the brain allows us to form and store memories. Human memory is the result of groups of neurons. Similarly, the memory of the ant colony, if we are able to represent yourself, there is due to the individual work of each individual ant and their interaction with each other.
Why one ant has no memory of the entire colony?
A recent article in Aeon magazine devoted to this idea. The Stanford University biologist Deborah Gordon writes about ant colonies in Finland, which for decades remain in the same place, which “took many generations of ants”. Each colony remembers his system traces leading to the same trees year after year, even though no single ant will not know. Amazing also is the fact that in the spring, after hibernation, the elder ant goes along with the young and they both follow the normal path of the older ant. After the death of his elder ant, Junior accepts his mark as your own, thereby prompting the colony to remember or reproduce the path of the trees as in the previous year.
Of the thousands of small interactions formed the memory of the colony. Gordon has shown it other ways. Researcher “bothered” ants, creating a variety of obstacles in their way. These disturbances have affected only a small number of ants, but, curiously, the behavior of other insects in the colony have also changed. Gordon explains it this way: after several days of repeating the experiments of the colony continued to behave in the same way as during the riots, even after all the clutter was eliminated. Neither ant didn’t remember anything, but in a sense, a colony memorized everything. Do you think, is this really the signs of a collective memory? Let’s discuss it with members of our Telegram chat.
Agree, it is amazing. However, there are still more aspects, evidence in favor of the idea of collective memory of the ant colony. While individual ant lives only one year, the colonies have existed for decades. Gordon found that more young colonies were more over-reactions to her obstacles than the older ones. This is reminiscent of the reaction of a teenager to a stimulus, which in adulthood, almost no one bothers. According to the researcher, the old colony will eventually begin to act more reasonably than the more young and small colonies,older colonies no older and wise ants.
Is there the collective wisdom of the ant colony?
The Argentine ant is a species of ants, originally from Argentina, but eventually spread almost all over the world. These insects today are found in Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, USA and Europe. In a 2002 article reported on a startling fact about populations of Argentine ants in Europe: these insects are divided into two “supercolony”, each of which extends for thousands of kilometers. Larger colonies actually form the largest cooperative unit ever recorded. But this does not mean that the entire continent is covered with two giant ant hills. And yet is widely separated colonies of ants, who are not fighting with each other. It seems as if the ants realize that they are somehow connected. But if ants from the same supercolony to place next to ants from another, they instantly become aggressive. Insects will begin to viciously attack each other, intending to kill. All ants of the same species. Agree, “war” is really appropriate to describe this situation the word.
Watching the two hostile supercolonies Argentine ants in the South-Western United States, researchers estimate that the clashes between them every year, killed 30 million ants (“adventures among ants”mark W. Moffett). One supercolony contains about a trillion ants, so 30 million is a tiny fraction, but it still gives an idea about the nature and scale and, ultimately, the futility of militancy, which show these insects.