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Thursday, September 9, 2010


Have you ever Been in a forest and taken the time to Simply look down at the floor, to see Ants?
Today I was walking slowly and I saw a leaf moving around on the ground by the road. I saw something mildly enlightening, I witnessed hundreds of cone ants fighting with larger Harvester ants. Once this captivated my attention i took the care to investigate further. about 50 feet to the east i found the mound of Harvester ants, where i saw hundreds of ants retreating to the safety of their mound. after following a trail of red fire ants carefully I watched the fire ants do something I had never seen animals or insets do in the wild before, Something Incredibly human [Though I must say perhaps we are acting peculiarly Antish considering ants were here before us]. The Red Fire ants were seemingly divided into three groups, one primary group was streaming to the “Battlefield” where harvester and fire ants clashed, the mandibles of the little fire ants injuring and killing harvester ants. the second “group” was running into the “Battlefield” and carrying back pieces of harvester ants, cut leaf chunks, and other indiscernible objects from the battlefield to their nest, and the third “group” was one that surprised me even more, some bigger fire ants seemed to be coming out halfway between the nest and the battlefield, and doing what I think was either feeding or communicating with the “warrior” ants [ants communicate via chemical smells and touch].
After witnessing this, I looked to the harvester ants: they were retreating back to their nest and several ants seemed to be building up around their nest. while it is mostly speculation, I remember watching documentaries that showed that many species of ants navigate based on a combination of scent and Sight, and that ants seem to be able to remember “Landmarks” and use them to navigate. I figured that perhaps the harvester ants were trying to change the appearance of their mound to throw off the invading army.
Until now, I had never witnessed any other species on the earth waging a war or battle for communal profit. Many other animals fight amongst themselves, some are territorial fighters like lions, others perform mock fights as mating displays to prove their genetic worth, but never had I seen an animal other than human beings wage a war for the profit of a community [A nest in this case, for humans I imagine a Fealty or nation would be equivalent]. More deadly Fire ants waging what seemed to be a well organized war [well, as well organized as a colony of ants can] with semi specialized units, and claiming “spoils of war” from the remains [and of the remains]. In contrast, the less combat adapted harvester ants were fighting, but for the most part retreating back to safety.
Interesting fact: Ants make up one approximately one fourth of the biomass of the earth. that is a hell of a lot of ants. What that means is that if you are to measure the mass of every human being on the planet, then measure the mass of every ant on the planet, the ants would be heavier. Ants have also been around for about 120 Million years, long enough to make us seem like newborn babies to them. If you really think about it, if ants organized Globally like Human beings, they could easily push our human society to ruin and reduce our species to a few isolated groups.
Furthermore, many species of Ants have actually domesticated fungi, and farm fungi in their tunnels to help feed the colony and dispose of waste by converting it into food, yet humans often foolishly boast their superiority and list domestication as the invention of mankind. Ants not only farm fungus, but some species of ants actually have specialized members of the colony whose bodies are nearly ten times larger and are essentially organic tanks to store nectar and sugars collected from plants and trees, and these giant ants store these substances in their bodies to dispense to newly hatched larvae, and to feed the colony in times of scarcity brought on by a drought or similar situations.
In the Amazon Rainforest, Many species of ants that live in trees to survive the region’s flooding and drying cycles have developed symbiotic relationships with caterpillars: the caterpillars harvest the touch bark or sap of trees and synthesize it into a sugary sweet excretion. Ants have recognized what we recognized in regards to milking cows: if the cow lives longer, you can get more milk out of it, and so many of these caterpillars are found with patrols of dozens of ants who fend off spiders and other predators while their colony-mates collect the bodily secretions of the caterpillar and transport it back to the nest.
Now that I have gone off on a tangent, I will return to my original topic. When I saw this, I started wondering “What makes us superior to these ants”. Human beings Achieve survival in large numbers by destroying their environments and converting their naturally renewable environment into nonrenewable items like plastics, Fossil fuel powered Electricity, Cars, Paved Roads, wooden and Concrete Homes. Humans survive in large numbers by hunting and domesticating other animals simply for the sake of our comfortable subsistence. Humans surviving in large numbers often protect an individual who endangers the entire species, risking the survival of their species for the sake of extending the life of an individual. Humans Kill their Environment and themselves, along with the other species inhabiting that space.
Ants on the other hand have achieves long term success, Increased their numbers to dominate the world, Feed all of their young, Contain diseases in a colony by culling the individual to save hundreds or thousands of lives, Harvest food and resources in renewable quantities form their environment, Have achieved the domestication of other species, separate into well organized Nation-colonies that can operate either alone or in conjunction with other colonies, specialize individuals to different tasks, and do all of this without significant damage to their natural habitats.
Human beings like to think of ourselves as walking gods among animals, but we really are not so civilized. We are parasites. We grow exponentially without regard for how we will care for those new members of our society. We still are rudimentary in our manner of feeding our population. We have almost no effective procedures to dispose of waste.
In so many ways, Ants have surpassed human beings, they are humanity’s predecessor as the most widespread life-form on earth, And they have managed to adapt to every environment int he world, very much like Humans. But one thing to notice is, many human philosophers and politicians have emphasized pacifism, but ants in all this time have not seen it beneficial to abandon war between colonies. War is not a negative event. War Kills. War Takes. War Destroys. But all of these things must happen in order to ensure a healthy dominant species. Ants, like Humans, have no natural predator that truly threatens their survival as a whole, Anteaters eat ants, humans try to kill ants, but neither succeed in numbers large enough to seriously dent the ant population. ants, recognizing this, regulate their own population. If An ant is recognized as diseased, other ants do not hesitate to execute it, and the diseased ant does not fight back. If Ants notice their colony is overpopulated, the surplus ants either leave on their own and die after a few days, or are killed by their colony mates to ensure the survival of the Colony. This is a true altruistic civilization, where every member of the civilization cares more about the survival of the species than it’s individual quality of life. So long as Humans allow personal Greed and interpersonal feelings affect their judgment, We remain a danger to each other and our environment. Maybe we should all take a hint from our elder neighbors and be just a bit more Altruistic and a Little less Greedy; what good does it do us to be wealthy, powerful, and to own many nice things if our species dies out?

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