News Stories

Ant Farms

Didn't know that some ants are farmers, did you? Leafcutter ants, that live in New World tropical forests, harvest fresh leaves and "plant" them deep underground, in order to grow a nutrient-rich fungus as food. In fact, the leafcutter can't survive without it.

Over many generations, the ants have gotten rid of genes they no longer need due to their lifestyle--kind of like farmers refusing to marry their kids to city folks. Researcher Garret Suen says, "Presumably, the ants have lost these genes because of their dependency on the fungus. They don't need these proteins kicking around any more."

Leafcutters come in a variety of body shapes and sizes to accomplish the division of labor it takes to build, defend and stock a nest containing so many individual insects. The ant's caste system includes small workers for tending to the fungus garden and ant brood, medium-sized workers for harvesting fresh leaves, and larger soldiers; those capable of mating, have wings.

What does this indicate for human evolution--that if we could finally learn to be peaceful species we would shed those warlike tendencies? Maybe if we weren't so threatening, the ETs that are here among us would finally come out openly. Want to talk about it? Join our subscribers for their weekly chat from 7 to 8 pm Pacific every Wednesday, and come to our Dreamland Festival in June!




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