Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth Science

Ant Mega-Colony Covers the World 359

Posted by samzenpus
from the ant-lords-demand-more-sugar dept.
Deag writes "A mega colony of one family of ants has spread all over the world. Previous mega colonies in California, Europe and Japan have been shown to be in fact one global colony. Ants from the smaller super-colonies were always aggressive to one another. So ants from the west coast of Japan fought their rivals from Kobe, while ants from the European super-colony didn't get on with those from the Iberian colony. But whenever ants from the main European and Californian super-colonies and those from the largest colony in Japan came into contact, they acted as if they were old friends."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ant Mega-Colony Covers the World

Comments Filter:
  • by jareds (100340) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @10:03PM (#28553019)

    One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; the ants will soon be here. And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality I could be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.

    Well, this reporter was...possibly a little hasty earlier and would like to...reaffirm his allegiance to this country and its human president. May not be perfect, but it's still the best government we have. For now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    don't tread on an ant he's done nothing to you
    there might come a day
    when he's treading on you
    you'll end up black and blue
    you cut off his head
    legs come looking for you

    so unplug the jukebox
    and do us all a favour
    that music's lost its taste
    so try another flavour -

    antmusic

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by OzPeter (195038)
      Man I can hear that sweet tune now ..
    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      I expected that to end "Burma Shave".

      I've been browsing /. WAY too much.

  • Genetic drift (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @10:28PM (#28553219) Journal
    I wonder how long it would take for the geographically isolated colonies (who share the same mega-colony ancestry) to drift enough that they lose their association with the parent mega-colony, and cease to treat other sub-colonies as friends.

    How much variation in the cuticle hydrocarbons is acceptable? Are there specific 'marker' hydrocarbons that help differentiate between colonies? Genetically, is it a matter of different intron expression, or is it variation within a single intron? How many base pairs are involved if that's the case?

    Damn, I knew I shouldn't have coffee this late.

    Well, I'm off to plunder the depths of the internet in hopes of learning more about ant colony differentiation. Adieu!
    • Re:Genetic drift (Score:5, Informative)

      by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:15PM (#28553517) Homepage Journal

      The ant is what happens when a species finds a niche and becomes so exquisitely adapted to it that further evolution is almost always detrimental. For a short time genetic change remains advantageous so long as it results in less genetic change. So you get the whole "single queen" reproductive model. The fact that ants have not completely lost their ability to sexually reproduce indicates that some advantage is still to be gained by it, but its most likely more about passing on antibodies than it is genes.
       

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:16PM (#28553519) Journal

      Well, I'm off to plunder the depths of the internet in hopes of learning more about ant colony differentiation. Adieu!

      I'm back. Whew! Plundering the depths of the internet is exhausting.

      I didn't manage to learn much about ant colony differentiation, but I did learn that:

      1. A leaf-cutter ant queen mates only once - just before establishing a new colony. She can then keep the sperm viable for up to 15 years and produce as many as 300 million offspring (Wow!).
      2. The study of ants is called Myrmecology.
      3. In heraldry the two-tailed mermaid is shown full face with the ends of her tails held in each hand. Both single-tailed and double-tailed varieties symbolize eloquence. If she has her comb and mirror with her then it means vanity.
      4. You can buy cheap bathroom vanities from some site called vanities.pronto.com.
      5. If you mispell "pronto" while googling with safesearch turned off, the results are um... interesting.
      6. Adult chat tends to focus on certain subjects. And "LilMissHotty69" is actually a guy from Peoria, IL named Bob who is into fishing and fixing up GTOs. Who knew?

      Maybe plundering the depths of the internet is not the best way to learn about an esoteric subject when hopped up on caffeine.

      • by LilMissHotty69 (1589727) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @12:06AM (#28553797)

        And "LilMissHotty69" is actually a guy from Peoria, IL named Bob who is into fishing and fixing up GTOs. Who knew?

        But you can't tell me you didnt enjoy it ;)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by genner (694963)

        Well, I'm off to plunder the depths of the internet in hopes of learning more about ant colony differentiation. Adieu!

        I'm back. Whew! Plundering the depths of the internet is exhausting. I didn't manage to learn much about ant colony differentiation, but I did learn that: 1. A leaf-cutter ant queen mates only once - just before establishing a new colony. She can then keep the sperm viable for up to 15 years and produce as many as 300 million offspring (Wow!). 2. The study of ants is called Myrmecology. 3. In heraldry the two-tailed mermaid is shown full face with the ends of her tails held in each hand. Both single-tailed and double-tailed varieties symbolize eloquence. If she has her comb and mirror with her then it means vanity. 4. You can buy cheap bathroom vanities from some site called vanities.pronto.com. 5. If you mispell "pronto" while googling with safesearch turned off, the results are um... interesting. 6. Adult chat tends to focus on certain subjects. And "LilMissHotty69" is actually a guy from Peoria, IL named Bob who is into fishing and fixing up GTOs. Who knew? Maybe plundering the depths of the internet is not the best way to learn about an esoteric subject when hopped up on caffeine.

        Stop SHILLING for Bing.com

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @10:28PM (#28553221)

    ... I've seen this movie. It was about 20 years ago. All I can say is - we're in a LOT of trouble guys.

    BTW if any of you are currently working in a research facility in the middle of the desert, I'd advise you to get out now.

  • by EZLeeAmused (869996) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @10:38PM (#28553285)
    One supercolony makes it sound like they have organization (of the ant-ish variety) that spans the globe. This is just a bunch of small colonies whose scents are so similar that members of the other colonies are unable to discern that they are, in fact, not from their own colony.
    • by icebike (68054)

      This is just a bunch of small colonies whose scents are so similar that members of the other colonies are unable to discern that they are, in fact, not from their own colony.

      That's my take on this as well.

      This sounds like kids with a a couple of ant farms substituting for science.

      Wake me when they have mapped the mitrochondrial DNA and determined that they did indeed descend from some common "Ant Eve"

      Till then Bad Breath (or pheromones) might be an equally likely explanation.

    • by Artifakt (700173)

      Makes you wonder though, is it possible for a worker to wander away from her own colony and be accepted into another? Could that even be happening regularly? How about on rare occasions? If a queen dies unexpectedly, would a whole bunch of workers just move to a colony that still had one? How likely is it that drones released from one colony will fertilize local queens and how likely distant ones - is this different from other ant types? Do this bunch's drones and pre-mating queens fly farther from the pare

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @10:41PM (#28553303)
    Just want to remind everyone, that when the ant revolution does come, that Oxyclean(tm) DOES in fact kill ants.
  • Them! [imdb.com]
  • Poor ants (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Struct (660658) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @10:46PM (#28553333)

    When they saw the breadth of their domain, they wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.

  • This is very bad news for Hopper and the rest of his gang [imdb.com].
  • by unitron (5733) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @10:49PM (#28553347) Homepage Journal

    That's alright. Here in the South we have our fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) to defend us.

  • the mole with the hair on the cheek, the kiss on the nose with the bad breath, the completely lame christmas presents, the drunk hysterical laughter at the adult table

    everywhere, everywhere on the globe

    (shudder)

  • by originalhack (142366) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @10:53PM (#28553369)

    I had these ants in my old house. Seal up one path and they find another. Put a pesticide on the baseboards and they run across the ceiling. The liquid ant bait/poison kills them, but they keep coming. I used a whole lot of the stuff and there was a 1/4" layer of dead ants in the room and they kept coming. It turns out that the anthills are all connected and they will even add a local hill if they find something that seems like a good source of food.

    I finally sold the house.... Sucker!!

  • It's clean, dries up disinfects AND kills ants on contact within seconds. It's also cheap. Trust me...it works.

  • Nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:24PM (#28553569)
    Here in Massachusetts they're so common and they're pretty much the first ant I ever saw in my back yard as a child in the 70's that I figured they were native.(They're all over the place. Hell, I only found out they're an invasive species last year. That's how completely settled in these little guys are.) Also unlike fire ants they don't bite but man do they breed like crazy.(I know I should get rid of them from my yard but most of the time they don't actually do anything to annoy me. When I see them it's pretty much "Who cares?" which is not my response when I see carpenter ants or yellow jackets.) They're definitely doing something right.
  • by Ortega-Starfire (930563) on Wednesday July 01, 2009 @11:26PM (#28553575) Journal

    ...signed up for the Mobile Infantry! Service Guarantees Citizenship!

    Klendathu delenda est!

    Would you like to know more?

  • Do they communicate philoticly?
  • "Come and go mad" could get nicely updated in the light of this discovery.
  • I still remember a story about this [wikipedia.org], so vividly, from when I was a kid. I must have seen the movie too, whatever.

    The point is that the ants are just waiting until we can't fire up the moats anymore. As soon as you give up your SUV, with it's 35 gallon gas tank, you are toast (not the ants)!
  • by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @12:48AM (#28553965)
    As Bill Bailey said, we're human slaves in an Insect Nation [youtube.com] (AHAAAAAHAAAAAAA!)
  • by Absolut187 (816431) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @09:59AM (#28557083) Homepage

    So ants from California to Japan realize that they have a common origin, and therefore refuse to fight.

    If only human beings were that smart. Think of the energy expended on wars over the last 20,000 years or so. Now imagine if all that effort had gone into peaceful science/technology. We probably would have Mars terraformed by now, and be working on colonizing Alpha Centauri.

    But instead we waste our time and energy killing each other because one group worships some invisible being called "Allah", while another group worships an invisible being called "God", etcetera.

    We are dumber than ants.

    • by Sinbios (852437) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @12:27PM (#28559123) Homepage

      If not for wars, we'd probably still be in the Stone Age.

      Duct tape? Commissioned by the military. Jet planes? First made by the Luftwaffe. Electronic computers? First made for codebreaking. Nuclear energy? Manhattan project. First man in space? Cold War. The Internet.

      Like it or not, wars have driven at least a significant portion of technological advancement. Ironic that you're complaining on a computer, over the Internet.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        You're actually reinforcing Absolut's point. Why should we need war to develop all that cool stuff? Why can't we fund their development on their own merits, rather than as an avenue for killing more people?

        Because we're dumber than ants.

        And the jet engine was actually patented first in England, almost ten years before WW2 began. The Germans were the first to put it into a production aircraft.

No amount of careful planning will ever replace dumb luck.

Working...