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Gliding ants
February 11, 2005 12:13 AM   Subscribe

Gliding ants have an uncanny ability to land on the tree's trunk and climb back to the very spot from which they'd fallen. FAQ, more videos. (via boingboing)
posted by dhruva (14 comments total)

 
Another beautiful example of evolution in progress. Most notable is that this developed independently in unrelated ants! /aside: Darwin will be 196 years old on Saturday. Happy Birthday :)
posted by adzm at 12:40 AM on February 11, 2005


Coolness! I love that nature can keep surprising us with her complexity. Has anyone tried this experiment on humans?
posted by missbossy at 1:49 AM on February 11, 2005


Fascinating stuff! I wonder how many different creatures that fellow has thrown out of trees?
posted by chrid at 4:53 AM on February 11, 2005


the long, cylindrical wasp-like Pseudomyrmecinae ants are also pretty good at it, as are several species of carpenter ants he recently dropped.

“There are three species of Cephalotes that also occur in the States - one in Arizona, one in Texas, and one in the Florida Keys,” he noted. “I'd like to get up there and drop those to see what they do.”


I suppose this just comes out of not having cable for too long. Poor bugger.
posted by NinjaPirate at 6:47 AM on February 11, 2005


Very interesting, dhruva. Thanks. As adzm said, it's notable that this occurs in ants of different species. And...

We recently discovered that ants are not the only canopy arthropods that glide. Stay tuned for more on this ongoing research.

I'm all a-twitter. No, really.
posted by soyjoy at 7:11 AM on February 11, 2005


But wait, the article said that ants used to have wings.

I don't understand why the Intelligent Designer would design wings, then design them away, just to design this weird parachuting, turning, and gliding trick.

It's almost as if out of a set of random changes, only those random changes that were useful were retained, "useful" being a function of the individual organism's currently existing environment.

But since I can't think of any mechanism that would allow the retention of randomly acquired useful traits, while discarding randomly acquired deleterious traits, I guess I'll just have to accept that the Intelligent Designer is really capricious.

Since He's so hard to understand, we're lucky He wrote a book with His Ten Commandments in it. We should post those Commandments in every school, and teach the kids about Intelligent Design!
posted by orthogonality at 7:21 AM on February 11, 2005


I don't understand why the Intelligent Designer would design wings, then design them away, just to design this weird parachuting, turning, and gliding trick.

Maybe to make you think about things? I dunno, seems the first thing you thought of was Him, Her, It, the Intelligent Designer, whatever you want to call.
posted by scheptech at 8:15 AM on February 11, 2005


This is very, very cool.
posted by malaprohibita at 8:32 AM on February 11, 2005


Maybe to make you think about things? I dunno, seems the first thing you thought of was Him, Her, It, the Intelligent Designer, whatever you want to call.

Then would it hurt him to call once in a while? Mr. Bigshot Omnipotence too busy to pick up a phone and say hello?

I'm always amazed at how much is left to discover about what's basically under foot. I read Howard Ensign Evans' Life on a Little Known Planet a little while back, which offered wonderful insights into the creatures you can find in your own backyard. He constantly lamented the fact that his research, and that of most terrestrial scientists, recieved a mere fraction of the money dedicated to the then-booming (originally published in the late 60s) Space Race. Kind of made me feel guilty for my infatuation with space.
posted by unsupervised at 11:06 AM on February 11, 2005


Mr. Bigshot Omnipotence too busy to pick up a phone

Unfortunately, Mr. Bigshot Omnipotence was able to, and did, create a phone so heavy that even he cannot lift it.
posted by soyjoy at 11:19 AM on February 11, 2005


This is the snarkiets ID conversation evar.

I worked next door to these guys for a while, and they're pretty cool - in a severely geeky sort of a way. They work on gliding flight in all sorts of odd animals, so one of their favorite tricks is tossing flying squirrels off of tall buildings. It turns out the little buggers have great aim.
posted by metaculpa at 11:29 AM on February 11, 2005


I find this sort of thing utterly fascinating, thanks for the post.

I actually know another Dhruva in Sydney, how odd!
posted by Specklet at 1:16 PM on February 11, 2005


God sent me an instant message once. It said,
"I love you unconditionally and nothing you can do will ever change that."
So I Blocked him.

Great post.
posted by elderling at 1:39 PM on February 11, 2005


Here are some videos of gliding snakes for accompaniment.

Great post, I never knew of gliding ants.
posted by derangedlarid at 2:36 PM on February 11, 2005


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