MAR 01, 2018 01:57 PM PST

These ants are Navy Seal hardcore

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A new discovery demonstrates the elaborate health care system that termite-hunting ants use to nurse their injured nest-mates back to health after a termite raid. The study showed that if kept by themselves, 80% of injured ants died; meanwhile, if they were cared for by their fellow ant-friends for even as short a time as an hour, that number shrunk to 10%.

The study also showed the first ever evidence of a triage medical system in non-humans. While in human health care the doctors decide who gets cared for first and who deserves rationed medical resources, with termite-hunting ants, the injured ants decided for themselves whether they need help. Injured ants will seemingly exaggerate their injury when other ants are nearby in order to attract more help from their nest-mates. But most interestingly, they'll only do this if they sense that their injuries are minor enough that they can recover. If they sense that they are mortally injured, they will refuse to cooperate with receiving help from the other ants, thereby forcing their nest-mates to abandon them and spend precious energy on others in need. Want to see it in action? Watch the video!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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