On the Battlefield, Ants Treat Each Other's War Wounds

Live Science | 2/14/2018 | Staff
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A species of warmongering sub-Saharan ant not only rescues its battle-wounded soldiers but also treats their injuries.

This strikingly unusual behavior raises the survival rate for injured ants from a mere 20 percent to 90 percent, according to new research published Feb. 13 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

M - Analis - Species - Colonies - Ants

M. analis is a nondescript-looking species that lives in colonies of several hundred to over a thousand ants. They're skilled raiders, sending out columns of several hundred ants to attack termite nests and drag termite corpses back to their own nests for a feast. These raids, however, often come with a cost: ants with lost or crushed limbs, or even ants limping home with tenacious termites clinging to their bodies.

A Megaponera analis ant carrying an injured comrade.

Frank - Colleagues - Work - Comoé - National

Frank and his colleagues knew from their previous work at Comoé National Park in northern Côte d'Ivoire that the ants assisted wounded comrades in getting home, but because the ants nest underground, they couldn't see what happened to the war-wounded after the raids. To find out, the team collected whole ant colonies and kept them in darkened artificial nests in the national park's research station. Infrared cameras kept track of the ants inside the nests.

The researchers then staged raids between the ants and captive termites, observing how the ants responded to heavily injured ants with five limbs crushed or amputated versus lightly injured ants with only two lost or damaged limbs.


"If you're able to stand up, you're very likely not too injured and you are still useful to the colony, so you should...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Live Science
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