Leave No One Behind: Super-Organisms In The Open Water

Leave No One Behind: Super-Organisms In The Open Water

In the Proceedings of the National Academies, lead author Nathan Mlot reported on how fire ants save themselves when confronted with floods and rains.

When these ants are swept up by water, a colony of thousands of ants will save themselves by locking their arms, legs and jaws together in a watertight raft.

They not only create buoyant to save their lives, but they can remains locked in place for months and draft to safety in new areas.

An individual ant will struggle and flail in the water, but when a colony hits the water, the ants spontaneously form a airtight sphere in order to survive. The ants on top crawl down to the water and grab onto their colleagues while each layer of ants do the same. Within 90 seconds, the sphere flattens to a dome and then into a pancake-shaped raft.

But there is no captain of this ant ship. No single ant is in charge. The ants act as one unit which is called a super-organism. “These ants hang in there and figure out a way to get the job done,” explained Michael Raupp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland. “It is another fascinating example of altruistic behavior, ants acting as super-organisms.”

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source