Just like the human-built GPS systems, these tiny creatures have magnets built into their antennas, which help them navigate. However, while the human system relies on huge expensive satellites, ants get their magnetic navigation powers from the minerals in the soil and the earth's magnetic field.
The researchers believe that little creatures pick up mineral particles, especially iron oxide in their antennas and use them to pick up the extremely weak signals of the Earth's magnetic field (1/20,000 that of a refrigerator magnet). The researchers also believe that not all ants navigate in this manner - Some, like the desert ants have developed special eyes and use the movement of the Sun as their GPS guide.
These findings just add to array of other amazing things that scientists have found about these industrious little creatures. They not only have the largest brain when compared to other insects their size, but one with a processing power that equals the computer that controlled the first NASA moon mission. If that is not enough, it was recently discovered that ants communicated with each other by talking - but not in the usual squeaky animal way - Instead, they stroke the ridges of their abdomen to convey messages to each other. We wonder what else we will find about these tiny but amazing little insects.
sources: discovery.com, dailmail.co.uk