beautiful parks and these little critters have already located your food stash. Sure, we may look at the outward characteristics and think to ourselves, “We need to eliminate these awful things!” Many of us don’t take the time to ponder the undeniable facts that would lead one to believe that these little creatures may be some of the smartest things on Earth.
You might be thinking to yourself that ants and humans do not have that much in common. To some extent, you are correct. The first humancities began to pop up around 9,500 years ago. These were very basic and did not involve advanced architecture. Ants have been building complex underground cities for over 120 million years. Wait, what? Needless to say, they have us beat by a little bit in that department. You might be thinking to yourself that these ant colonies are just holes in the ground. You would be wrong. They are actually very complex and well designed cities. Larger ant hills have to deal with a build-up of CO2 in their underground tunnels the same as humans would. Luckily for ants, they long ago discovered the concept of building ventilation tunnels into their colonies that allow CO2 toescape while bringing in fresh air. They funnel their waste intospecific areasto be recycled, and they have a complex system of “highways” connecting important chambers. All of these things help to deal with colony populations that can range in the millions.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, well at least we were the first to use agriculture to our advantage. Well, it turns out that ants have us beat there as well. They began farming an estimated 50-65 million years ago. Certain types of ants use some ants will harvest tree sap with antifungal properties and disinfect their "feet" with it before entering their colony. This helps prevent the spread of disease. How do they know that?
Okay, so ants have us beat when it comes to first building advanced cities, farming, and understanding the use of antibacterial agents to ward off disease. At lease we were the first to domesticate other life forms for our benefit, right…right? Unfortunately, ants have us beat there as well. If you know what out that ants love the sugary secretions of the aphid. They will actually carry aphids to new plants and protect them from predators. This is a process we refer to as herding. Let us think about this for a moment. Not only do ants realize that where these aphids are, there is an abundance of honeydew. Ants actually posses enough cognitive thought to determine that aphids produce the honeydew, and they could domesticate them to their advantage. Next time you get an aphid infestation, look closely to see if you have ants patrolling the plant.
You might be wondering if I plan on telling you that ants were the first on the moon. Well, I can’t state that with any certainty (although I’m guessing no), but they do have the ability to mobilize their society with a type of unrivaled precision. Consider for a moment that ants carry out organized warfare and adhere to specific battle plans. They have been waging wars for millions of years before the thought even occurred to us. During these wars, they even capture prisoners and force them to work in their colonies. This requires quite a bit of abstractlogic on the ant’s parts. They see that these captured ants could help aid their colony more alive than dead.
state parks, and you see a lone ant scampering across your campsite, think to yourself just how advanced these little insects are. You might also be thankful that they are so much smaller than you, or the worldwould workvery differently. It may also be beneficial to hope they never organize as an entire population because I’m fairly certain that 1.5 million ants could overpower one human. Keep that in mind the next time you are deciding to do something that can make these things resent us.