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Can ants count????

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by major, Mar 15, 2010.

  1. major

    major Rejected member

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    Fascinating............watch the video

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120587095



    Can ants count? Not out loud they can't. Not the way you and I count. But an ingenious experiment conducted in the Sahara suggests maybe ants do count.

    Harald Wolf of the University of Ulm and his assistant Matthias Whittlinger proposed that ants have "pedometer-like" cells in their brains that count the steps they take.

    How Do Ants Get Home?

    Most ants get around by leaving smell trails on the forest floor that show other ants how to get home or to food. They squeeze the glands that cover their bodies; those glands release a scent, and the scents in combination create trails the other ants can follow.

    That works in the forest, but it doesn't work in a desert. Deserts are sandy and when the wind blows, smells scatter.

    So how do desert ants find their way home?

    It's already known that ants use celestial clues to establish the general direction home, but how do they know exactly the number of steps to take that will lead them right to the entrance of their nest?

    Wolf and Whittlinger trained a bunch of ants to walk across a patch of desert to some food. When the ants began eating, the scientists trapped them and divided them into three groups. They left the first group alone. With the second group, they used superglue to attach pre-cut pig bristles to each of their six legs, essentially putting them on stilts.

    The third group had their legs cut off just below the "knees," making each of their six legs shorter.

    After the meal and the makeover, the ants were released and all of them headed home to the nest while the scientists watched to see what would happen.

    The "Pedometer Effect"

    The regular ants walked right to the nest and went inside.

    The ants on stilts walked right past the nest, stopped and looked around for their home.

    The ants on stumps fell short of the nest, stopped and seemed to be searching for their home.

    It turns out that all the ants had walked the same number of steps, but because their gaits had been changed (the stilty ants, like Monty Python creatures, walked with giant steps; the stumpy ants walked in baby steps) they went exactly the distances you'd predict if their brains counted the number of steps out to the food and then reversed direction and counted the same number of steps back. In other words, all the ants counted the same number of steps back!

    Does that mean ants have something like pedometers that do something like counting?

    Says professor James Gould of Princeton, commenting on the experiment: "These animals are fooled exactly the way you'd expect if they were counting steps."

    Gould says it's pretty clear ants don't have maps in their heads and don't recognize markers along the route. This experiment strongly suggests that ants do have internal pedometers that allow them to "count" their way home.
     
  2. Y-NotG23

    Y-NotG23

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    Not that I give a rat's behind about ants but it seems to me that it would have been simpler to move one group further away and the other group closer to the nest.

    But what the hell do I know?
    I'm not getting a special grant to waste tax payer money on stupid crap like this. :faint:
     

  3. devildog2067

    devildog2067

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    My specialty isn't in biology, but the more things that you change in an experiment the less you can conclude. By letting all of the ants start in one place you are controlling that variable.

    Right, because all science is a waste of taxpayer money. I forgot. Thanks for pointing that out, while typing on the web that was an accidental invention by a physics laboratory that was wasting your tax dollars.
     
  4. DR. HOUSE

    DR. HOUSE Everybody Lies

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    The ants go marching one by one, hurah hurah!
     
  5. DR. HOUSE

    DR. HOUSE Everybody Lies

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    Peti would have a fit if they read this!
     
  6. SKeefe

    SKeefe

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    Wait, does this only deal with them walking in a straight line? What if they make a series of turns to get to their destination, how do they remember the turns to make to get back?
     
  7. Stang_Man

    Stang_Man

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    Still many questions, but intriguing nontheless!

    Makes you wonder what is wired into our brains that we don't use, or aren't aware of using, on a daily basis.
     
  8. major

    major Rejected member

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    Well I think you hit the nail on the head right there.
     
  9. tbone1970

    tbone1970 walmart goat

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    what cruel scientist cuts the legs off of ants???














    :rofl:
     
  10. Y-NotG23

    Y-NotG23

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    Precisely my point.
     
  11. FA5Si

    FA5Si

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    Insects are the current model for developing Artificial Intelligence and robotics.
     
  12. glockfanbob

    glockfanbob

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  13. nmk

    nmk

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    Many behavioral experiments cost almost nothing.

    Many behavioral experiments are not funded by taxpayers.

    Just because you don't understand the implications of something doesn't make it stupid. I remember a former VP candidate trashing research on fruit flies. It's just a silly little fruit fly, right? :faint:

    Why do you consider this research wasteful?