Why Ants Never Lose Their Way

By Meera Dolasia on October 31, 2011

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Ants are industrious little insects that always seem to know where they are heading - Now, a team of curious researchers from The Technical University of Munich and Brazilian Center for Physics Research believe they may have the answer - It's all to do with their in-built GPS systems.

The scientists headed by researcher Jandira Ferreira de Oliveira studied the behavior of termite ants using sophisticated microscopes and what they discovered, was amazing. Just like 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 as the insects are walking around, tiny mineral particles like iron oxide from the soil get stuck to their antennas. This enables the ants to pick up the extremely weak signals from the Earth's magnetic field (1/20,000 that of a refrigerator magnet), and turn the antenna into a 'biological compass needle'. However, 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 also, 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

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295 Comments
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  • JaegarmasterWednesday, March 30, 2016 at 4:40 pm
    I find it to be quite incredible that small arthropods such as ants have the ability to sense magnetic fields in minerals. Although, this is an ability that many animals seem to posses, such as sharks and dolphins. Of course you may be wondering; why is it that humans, with all of our intellect, cannot achieve such physical abilities? This is because of our highly advanced evolution of the brain. We, as humans, are the dominant species because of our ability to express ourselves in no way a mere ant could. So be proud to be a human, and not an ant.
    • Armin ArlertWednesday, March 30, 2016 at 4:31 pm
      wow did not no ant so smart???? It has gps like a human car it cant get lost!!!
      • sparten1234
        sparten1234Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 9:21 am
        awsome
        • LoveMonday, November 16, 2015 at 10:22 am
          This cool but really gross
          • DoomMonday, November 16, 2015 at 7:42 am
            Creepy
            • ZJThursday, September 24, 2015 at 8:13 am
              COOOOOOOLLLLL
              • dededeWednesday, September 16, 2015 at 9:05 am
                so so cool and gross
                • rereWednesday, September 16, 2015 at 9:04 am
                  Awesome
                  • moonyo
                    moonyoThursday, May 7, 2015 at 11:41 am
                    that is amazig
                    • Lebron JamesThursday, March 19, 2015 at 5:36 pm
                      this is cool

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