Ants on stilts, and Wolf on ants on stilts, and ants trapped and hunkered in an old bunker have the spotlight in three ant research studies featured in the “Ants Research” column in the special Small Animals issue (vol. 26, no 3) of the Annals of Improbable Research.
Humans are not the only animals that (in many cases) are attracted by the smell of coffee. This study focuses on ants’ attraction to coffee smells: “Olfactory behavior and response of household ants (Hymenoptera) to different types of coffee odor: A coffee-based bait development prospect,” Abdul Hafiz Ab Majid, Hamady Dieng, Siti Salbiah Ellias, Faezah […]
Ants are better than many humans suspect at dealing with Legos. This newly published study explains: “Collective strategy for obstacle navigation during cooperative transport by ants,” Helen F. McCreery, Zachary A. Dix, Michael D. Breed, Radhika Nagpal, Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 219, 2016, pp. 3366-3375. The authors, at the University of Colorado and Harvard […]
Ig Nobel Prize winner David Hu researches many questions that involve biology AND mathematics AND physics. And often, fluid dynamics. In this video, he confides, concisely, some of the biophysical ways that ants survive perilous, quickly-changing physical conditions: The 2015 Ig Nobel Prize for physics was awarded to Patricia Yang [USA and TAIWAN], David Hu [USA and TAIWAN], and […]
Although many species of frog have been scientifically classified by smell (a feat honored by the 2005 Ig Nobel Prize in biology), relatively few ants have been so analyzed. That situation has now begun to be remedied. This study “The True Odor of the Odorous House Ant,” Clint A. Penick and Adrian A. Smith, American Entomologist, vol. […]
Room 007 of the Love Building at Gatech, Atlanta, Georgia is the home of the Hoogle Lab. It’s run by David L. Hu (Assistant Professor of Fluid Mechanics) who is the corresponding author for the robotic jumping-beans study which Improbable recently profiled. But the Hoogle Lab doesn’t exclusively focus on jumping beans, it also investigates the […]
Two questions that are easy to answer, unless you care whether the answer is accurate: 1. Is your body mostly microbes? Actually, we have no idea. By Peter Andrey Smith, in the Boston Globe. 2. Are all the ants as heavy as all the humans? By Hannah Moore, for BBC News.
This half-century-old song by Tom Lehrer seems—save for its failure to mention ants—to anticipate a study published this month about ants: “Virgin ant queens mate with their own sons to avoid failure at colony foundation,” Christine Vanessa Schmidt [pictured here], Sabine Frohschammer, Alexandra Schrempf, Jürgen Heinze, Naturwissenschaften, vol. 101, no. 1, January 2014, pp 69-72. […]
Thanks to investigator Margot Button for bringing this to our attention: BONUS: The classic study by Jerry Lettvin et al.: “What the Frog’s Eye Tells the Frog’s Brain” BONUS (unrelated): Gorb’s “Elastic modulus of tree frog adhesive toe pads“
Sedeer el-Showk [pictured here] does what might be called a literary experiment: describing human agriculture from the perspective of “attine ants, a group of ants which have evolved a mutualistic relationship with certain fungi that can only be described as a form of agriculture”: In addition to the difficulties of communication, other biological limitations of humans […]