wild city of ants

via @ultimape

Great follow up (to planet ant) is Nat Geo’s “Wild City of Ants” – goes into more detail on how ant colony structures vary.

National Geographic Wild City Of Ants

when social behavior taken to extreme.. a super org.. group of individuals so hyper connected that it behaves like one autonomous being

2 min – ted r schulz (http://entomology.si.edu/StaffPages/schultz.htm): tissues/organs specialized for particular jobs

one ness

how do so many tiny minds fuse into one

3 min – alex wild (@Myrmecos): amazing.. that it happens at all.. each one of these ants has the potential to be an individual.. to go off and do their own thing.. yet they don’t.. they persist in living in these societies.. and

figuring out why ants do that rather than going it alone

is a very key question in ant science..

4 min – when ants get supersized (with frankoncam) they reveal behavior that was once almost impossible to see

12 000 species of ants.. know nothing about biology of vast majority.. but agree all of them are … social

ted: ants are wasps.. but they’ve evolved to become social..

scent glands.. that release pheromone.. and antennae.. perfect toolkit for very communal insect..

8 min – caste system.. where diff looking ants perform diff jobs.. makes for a more org’d system.. but it comes at a cost.. workers have to give up queenly ambition…

alex: with ants… it’s getting them to abandon their own reproduction in order to help the colony as a whole and help the queen reproduce..

but the workers don’t always obey the rules.. each of them can reproduce if they dare

alex: that’s from the perspective of the other ants.. cheating.. and it undermines the cohesive ness of the colony

9 min – did the sister ants cause an abortion..?

10 min – battle between species

14 min – all the ant roles

same from Deborah Gordon

15 min – how does a group of ants agree on anything… ants may appear to be playing follow the leader.. but in truth.. no single ant is calling the shots.. 

16 min – nigel r frank (http://www.bristol.ac.uk/biology/people/nigel-r-franks/index.html): it’s the workers that know what needs to be done..

but less clear how they decide what to do….nigel.. wants to know how ants make decisions..

nigel: tiny chips glued on back of ants.. chips enable .. to get each individual ant to id itself for us.. shows how communicated and how consensus is reached..

18 min – nigel: tandem running (one ant leads another) .. qualifies as teaching.. was first case that demos teaching in any other animal than ourselves…

teaching..? or modeling..? huge diff

each ant has a basic concept of what makes a good home.. so more ants get recruited to good next.. enough to convince colony as a whole..

huge. . to rat park/people experiment… trust ing of basic concept.. getting enough to convince colony as a whole..

20 min – central america army ants are an org’d force in constant motion

sean 0’donnell (http://www.psych.uw.edu/psych.php?SectionID=80&EditionID=71&p=452): this is one of the supreme ie’s of super organismic development..in insect societies .. that we know of

21 min – up close becomes clear that specialized ants are doing specialized things..

22 min – sean: they’re interacting with each other almost constantly.. and they do this by following chemical trails and by maintaining close contact with each other.. very little time lapse where not touching as they move through forest..

a network nearly as intricate as synapses in human brain.. group overwhelms larger insects

25 min – even more complex and far more peaceful… leafcutter ants.. if army ants like a single predator.. then this is like a single/giant herbivore

26 min – sean: millions of workers under my feet

below ground.. ant city as big as school bus.. vast network of arteries link chambers.. each chamber specific purpose.. each ant specific job… 1\ scouts (eyes) leave scent trail..  for the mouth

27 min – ted: mouth of super org is the many 10s of 1000s of foragers that are out in field cutting up leaves and bringing them back to the nest.. unlike single org w one mouth.. have 10s of 1000s of mouths..  2\ slicer ants  3\ smaller ants that check leaves for bacteria

29 min – leaves aren’t for the ants.. they’re food for.. a subterranean garden of fungus that grows nowhere else.. the leaves nourish the fungus.. the fungus feeds the ants

30 min – in one sense.. they are farmers.. in another.. if seen as super org.. the fungus is just part of the digestive system.. converts leaves into form ants can use… fungus is digesting undigestible food and turning it into ant food for the ants

each fungus garden grows to size of about a head of lettuce.. a single colony can hold over 100

31 min – where there’s a digestive systsem.. there’s solid waste to deal with… tainted by the service they perform.. they are condemned to toil in the bowels of the city…. foragers.. gardners.. sanitation workers..  all these individual ants are part of a single metabolism.. could only be achieved through cooperation.. and they coop because they recognize each other as members of the same reproductive organism..

32 min – sisters of same nest coop.. of diff nests are mortal enemies.. even if same species.. this competition helps keep end populations in balance.. but some ants have been able to overcome this rule.. forming peace treaties.. merging super org’s into super colonies.. with the power.. literally.. to conquer the globe..

xavier espadaler gelabert (http://www.creaf.cat/personal/xavier-espadaler-gelabert): trying to figure out why this peace treaty works.. he takes them back to lab for.. an aggression test.. id each other by smell.. but for some reason doesn’t detect diff’s

34 min – some scientists believe lack of aggression comes from a genetic shift that happened after they left argentina..  result .. millions of colonies that all act like they’re the same..a super colony.. stretches 6000 km.. and all over world..

37 min – fire ants.. plague ish..   have: sterile workers; system of org’d labor; network of chemical communication; also.. get a lot of help from us..

walter tschinkel (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_R._Tschinkel): when we flatten for parking lots.. we make the perfect environment for fire ants..

40 min – steal eggs from weeker colony.. when defeated.. workers defect and help the winning side

41 min – even the queen joins her conquerors.. if the weaker nest were allowed to grow.. it would eventually.. compete… a losing situation for all.. instead.. the surviving nest just got a lot bigger.. eggs hatch.. welcomed as family..

walter:  can last anywhere from days.. to whole month.. included ultimately 80 nests that i saw.. w many queens..

42 min – so growing exponentially.. but. . this is no commune.. it’s just the calm before the storm.. queens start to compete.. for good of colony.. the workers revolt.. they decide which queen.. sometimes even turnig against own mothers.. rejected queens meet an end befitting of opposed monarch.. until only one is left

43 min – over time.. ants from dozens of colonies operate aggregate one queen.. into the ultimate fire ant super org… using this strategy.. fire ants can seize new territory and spread faster than we can stop them.. if we have a problem with ants.. it’s a problem we created..

44 min – alex: almost everything out there gets recycled through the ants.. they really are hugely important

the earth we inherited.. an earth already groomed by ants.. we tend to ignore them because they are everywhere.. but they’re everywhere because they’re so successful at doing what they do.. getting millions of minds to think/work/live as one

watching clips of womens march 2017 while watching this doc.. surreal ish


planet ant

from ant network page:

collecting here via socrates at 9 and self-organizing ness

dabbled a bit here: swarms – and ant network and 99 and 1 and murmuration and free to fly and (stigmergy ness) – self-organizing

then got a bit deeper while reading Kevin Carson‘s regulated state

Deborah Gordon


Shannon Mattern

the new normal