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Surprising discovery – the ants are building aimlessly

Bladskärarmyror found in the tropical and subtropical parts of Central and south America.

They live in huge colonies with up to eight million individuals. The underground nest is surrounded by smaller nests which in some cases is spread over an area of 600 square meters.

pieces of fresh leaves from trees and bushes and carrying them home to the nest along a special path, where it is possible to see thousands of ants that are marching forward with swaying leaves in the jaws.

the Leaves chewed to a mushy pulp that is used as a substrate for the colony's growing mushrooms. The fungus, which cannot live anywhere else than in the bladskärarmyrornas bon, serves as food for both larvae and adults.

is dependent on a large network of paths and roads. These ants move quickly back and forth between the nest and the surrounding jungle. The paths also marks how far the colony's territory extends.

the Problem is that the road network requires a lot of work. New roads must be built and the old must be maintained. This involves a continuous slit to remove the twigs, leaves and pebbles.

each colony of bladskärarmyror 2.730 metres of roads and paths through the jungle each year.

This is a herkuliskt work. The ants are just one centimeter long and have to work for hours to keep the roads in decent condition. Sometimes falling trees down across their paths and then they are forced to build tunnels through the vegetation. Often, they also need to smooth the paths by carrying away soil and sand.

It has generally been assumed that the ants involved with the megaprojects of this kind, where thousands of individuals work together, communicate with each other in order to coordinate the work.

According to the theory, each ant following a trail of fragrances, pheromones, with instructions to other ants in the colony.

the new study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, that is not true.

the Researchers, who were led by beteendeekologen Thomas Bochynek at Northwestern University in the united states, the observed colonies both in the wild – in Costa Rica, in Central america – and in the laboratory.

What they found was surprising. If the conventional theory is right should work to first reduce then the ants communicate with each other when they encountered an obstacle that must be removed. Should the pace increase, then all that have been cut in order to jointly take away the obstacle. Finally, when the job is finished, should the pace reduce dramatically.

it not to. The pace of work varied, never as it should do if the ants to and from communicated with each other. Instead discovered Bochynek and his colleagues, the ants removed obstacles as they encountered them. They called never on help from the other ants and the coordinated never work.

So would never we people behave. But the ants actually get the work done anyway. The paths are cleared from all sorts of leaves, twigs and other plant parts. And maybe it all goes by faster than if they would devote some of the time to "talk" with each other.

According to the researchers, the principle is simple. If you do not need to communicate, to refrain. You save energy and do not have to think about what you should do.

in other words, each individual acting for himself. Thus, a giant construction project to be completed, but that someone made up a plan, and without that the work is coordinated. The only thing that is needed is an innate desire of every individual to clear away the objects when they encounter them.

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