Previous research has already shown that ants are quite remarkable creatures, capable of organizing themselves and even living according to pre-set rules. Now, a new study reveals that fire ants are also capable of raising living towers, similar in structure to the Eiffel Tower. However, this seems to be less about organization and more about survival.
The latest research on fire ants comes from Georgia Institute of Technology scientists. This is not their first study on the matter, but according to their own reports, this latest discovery was quite accidental.
The team was filming a fire ants colony and left the camera rolling for three instead of two hours. As they speeded up the extra recording, they witnessed a different sort of ant movement. This presented the ants’’ incredible abilities to raise a living tower in just 20 minutes.
Fire Ants Show Complex Building Skills Influenced by Survival Instinct
Researchers theorize that these ants build such towers for a variety of reasons, all of them revolving around survival. Such towers can help them reach previously inaccessible places and find thus find new food sources. Or they can be used for escaping dangerous grounds.
One of the most surprising elements of these structures is that they appear to be unplanned. Namely, the ants seem to build these Eiffel Tower-like shaped structures by trying to find an fill an empty spot.
“With no planning, and using trial-and-error, they create a bell-shaped structure that helps them survive,” stated David Hu, one of the study’s authors.
The recorded video shows that the fire ants built their living tower around a central structure. They did so by crawling on top of one another until they reached and empty spot, one on the central pillar. Then, these would also be stepped upon as a new wave raised another block in the structure.
The resulting tower can seemingly be as large as some 30 ants high. These specimens can also seemingly withstand some 750 times their body weight without being injured. Still, they seem most comfortable when supporting just three ants on their backs.
If this number is surpassed, they seemingly just “break their holds and walk away”. This also leads to a constant restructuring of the living tower.
Research results are available in a paper in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
Image Source: Wikimedia