Excavating the Kingdom of the Ants

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This fascinating video details how a scientist learns what an ant colony looks like in the wild -- it's astonishing how big these things can get [3:16]

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i don't know this for a fact, but according to the notes accompanying this video, the ant nest was abandoned.

"... the anonymous graduate students labor intensely for
the good of the super organism. The students move tons of earth, shovel-full by patient shovel-full. At the end, scarcely conceivable, lies the intangible reward. This complex behavior may seem strange to us, but in the world of the graduate student, no task is too Herculean..."

By Dr. Pablito (not verified) on 26 Jan 2009 #permalink

A nice project. But as an entomologist, I want to know what species of ant was investigated. Genus and species would be good. Also I assume this happened in Africa somewhere - Where?

By Mike Grimm (not verified) on 26 Jan 2009 #permalink

I believe it was Prof. Walter Tschinkel of Florida State U. who developed the techniques for making plaster and metal casts of ant nests. There are some great photos here.

By Julie Stahlhut (not verified) on 27 Jan 2009 #permalink

Fascinating. However, to destroy a living colony in the name of science seems harsh and unnecessary, especially with the tools available to us today - such as infrared and sonic mapping. Surely they could have achieved the same thing without killing millions of innocent creatures! How old was that colony? How long will it take the ants that escaped to rebuild? So sad.

By Susan Trott (not verified) on 17 Jul 2009 #permalink