You may remember a recent viral video showing an undescribed predatory ant behavior. It turned out that myrmecologists Christian Peeters and Stéphane de Greef had observed these ants in the field, but they’d not assembled enough data to publish, leaving us all in the dark about how the ants coordinated the amazing millipede-hauling chains.
With a bright internet spotlight on the behavior, Christian and Stéphane returned to the project and have just published a detailed description in Insectes Sociaux. The video alone is worth a thousand words:
source: Peeters C, De Greef S. 2015. Predation on large millipedes and self-assembling chains in Leptogenys ants from Cambodia. Insectes Sociaux doi: 10.1007/s00040-015-0426-2
A new microdocumentary by Adrian Smith, who you may already know from the Age of Discovery podcast:
Filmed at 600 frames per second, this is about 25 times slower than life. Yet, the mandible strike is still so quick as to appear instantaneous!
This hypnotic clip, taken by JerseyBug, is a glimpse into one of the most fascinating set of eyes among all animals, those of jumping spiders:
The spider’s anterior median eyes (the big ones) focus sharply and can even detect depth, but their abilities are limited by an extremely narrow field of vision. Spiders counteract the narrowness by moving some of the internal elements, allowing the animal to scan more broadly. Thus, the odd color changes in this jumper’s eyes are essentially the spider having a look about.
Time-lapse photographer Samuel Orr has been assembling a monumental documentary on periodical cicadas, due out later this year on PBS. The trailer alone is sublime:
More nature documentaries like this, please.
For updates on Orr’s project, visit: http://returnofthecicadas.com/
And now, a short video I made a few years ago:
Ants exchange food with each other far more frequently than nutrition requires. Liquid food-sharing, called trophallaxis, instead serves a communicative function, helping spread information among a colony’s workers. This video documents the behavior in a colony of captive Camponotus pennsylvanicus kept in a lab at the University of Illinois.
The Chicago Field Museum’s Chief Curiosity Correspondent, Emily Graslie, talks with myrmecologist Corrie Moreau about why ants are awesome.
While we’re on the topic of crazy ants, here’s a clip of my friend Ed LeBrun explaining the Nylanderia fulva invasion: