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Termites are cockroaches!
June 5, 2007 8:09 PM   Subscribe

Termites are Cockroaches.
posted by Citizen Premier (31 comments total)

 
that's a lie! ... TAKE IT BACK!
posted by pyramid termite at 8:11 PM on June 5, 2007


I bury those cock-a-roaches!
posted by gottabefunky at 8:15 PM on June 5, 2007


*snicker*
posted by meh at 8:19 PM on June 5, 2007


woooooooooow!
posted by j-urb at 8:21 PM on June 5, 2007


Better than being classified as a, well, uhm.

Sorry p t.
posted by OrangeDrink at 8:21 PM on June 5, 2007


Well. This changes everything.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:24 PM on June 5, 2007


Wow. I had no idea there was this much confusion/controversy over termites before. Interesting.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:00 PM on June 5, 2007


cockroaches are in your wood, eatin ur load bearing structures. Or they might be. worth checking.
posted by longsleeves at 9:19 PM on June 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


interesting case of convergent evolution I guess, unless there's a social-insect curriculum & school system we're not aware of.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:27 PM on June 5, 2007


Maybe the two species met on Noah's Ark.
posted by ninjew at 9:40 PM on June 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wait, so they can digest cellulose, build cities, AND survive nuclear war?
We're fucked.

Actually this is really interesting to me. I knew that they had evolved their sociality completely separately from the Hymenoptera, and as such it worked differently (i.e. having both queens and "kings" sometimes several of each per colony.) Where they actually evolved from makes this even weirder though. Thanks!
posted by agentofselection at 9:42 PM on June 5, 2007


In other news, fungi aren't plants. The old system of classification based on "looks like, behaves like, lives like" is gradually being replaced with DNA sequencing.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:48 PM on June 5, 2007


In other news, fungi aren't plants.

Sorry, is this sarcasm? Fungi haven't been considered plants (outside of creationism) for a long time.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:55 PM on June 5, 2007


We're fucked.

Yes.

As painful a concept as this might be, and given the multitude of ways that humanity could be wiped out or go extinct, there is a very strong likelihood that these creatures that have outlived us by an exponent or so, are also likely to be extant far after our species demise.

Oddly, this fact doesn't bother me much. Humans are really neat, but when our big brains are not enough, it's nice to suspect that life will continue.
posted by quin at 10:32 PM on June 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Aeschenkarnos just reads slowly.
posted by OrangeDrink at 10:33 PM on June 5, 2007


Outliving us =|= conquering us. Still, I wonder who would win if it came down to humanity vs. the termites.

far after our species demise.
Call me a cock-eyed octopus, but I believe that if we play our cards right, we may live on earth for as long as it can support multicellular life.
posted by Citizen Premier at 11:28 PM on June 5, 2007


we may live on earth for as long as it can support multicellular life.

one thing's for sure, we're their [present] ticket off this rock.

plus if the sun winked out tomorrow I think it's on the edge of possibility that our current technology (eg. tapping geothermal) would save us -- and thus our pestly friends -- as a species.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:11 AM on June 6, 2007


"The world ain't goin' anywhere. We are!"

God bless George Carlin. Yes we're fucked. Yes the cockroaches and their termite cousins are gonna outlive us. Yes peanuts are really legumes. Yes fungi are really aliens. I am in complete agreement with this thread.

Except for that bit about the Earth supporting humans as long as it can support multicellular life. I'm waiting for the planet to shrug us off like fleas on a mutt. All it has to do is stop spinning. Humanity really has no concept just how precarious life on this rock is.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:20 AM on June 6, 2007


Still, I wonder who would win if it came down to humanity vs. the termites.

Pop Quiz Hotshot
: You're in the middle of an arena. You're being attacked by 5 year olds termites who will stop at nothing to kill you. How many can you take on before they overcome you?
posted by kisch mokusch at 2:29 AM on June 6, 2007


War is peace! Ignorance is Strength!
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:02 AM on June 6, 2007


Humanity really has no concept just how precarious life on this rock is.

What could conceivably kill us off? Global warming wouldn't do it. Even global nuclear war probably wouldn't be enough. Maybe by the time we develop relatavistic weapons we'll be fucked, but then so is the everybody else in the universe.

Life may get really shitty in the future, but humans are some tough buggers, a real nasty infection if you want to look at it that way, and we aren't going to go away without fight.
posted by afu at 5:29 AM on June 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sorry, is this sarcasm? Fungi haven't been considered plants (outside of creationism) for a long time.

No offense intended. I hadn't actually known that fungi weren't plants at all (as opposed to being a major subtype of plant), until about a year ago. I just had never heard that, nor had it occurred to me that they might not be plants. I thought it another equally interesting, odd, fact of biology.

Good to know that's general knowledge, I suppose. Sorry.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:10 AM on June 6, 2007


No problem, aeschenkarnos. Just a few years ago I wondered if clams were warmblooded.
posted by Citizen Premier at 6:12 AM on June 6, 2007


As someone who always pulled for the doughty termites when confronted by marauding hordes of soldier ants invading their home whenever it was aired on nature programs I find this development unsettling.

To think that all this time I was cheering for the cousins of cockroaches! I think I feel sick.
posted by MasonDixon at 6:25 AM on June 6, 2007


No offense intended. I hadn't actually known that fungi weren't plants at all (as opposed to being a major subtype of plant), until about a year ago.

I actually learned this in elementary school in the 1980s. And since then the basic groupings have changed I think. At the time it was plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and protests. There are a a couple different divisions now, but the most common is the three domain system in which plants, animals, and fungus are all Eukarya, and then plants and fungus are two of several groups.

But, fungi aren't plants in older systems because they don't do photosynthesis.
posted by delmoi at 6:35 AM on June 6, 2007


THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING!
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:55 AM on June 6, 2007


the real ants (which are in fact a type of wasps).

Is that just a badly phrased reference to ants evolving from wasps? Or has someone recently suggested rearranging the Hymenoptera as well?
posted by Tehanu at 7:56 AM on June 6, 2007


For more on how termites can do anything they want, look for the BBC series Wild South America, in which you can watch them creating their own light.

PS They also manufacture hydrogen.
posted by fidelity at 8:21 AM on June 6, 2007


Ants are wasps, so are bees (on this tree, both are in the Aculeata, bees in the Apoidea, ants in the Vespoidea). That is, according to all or almost all responsible analyses, the hypothetical ancestor of all wasps is also an ancestor of ants and bees. The studies posted about are saying that the ancestor of all cockroaches is also an ancestor of termites.

Here's the primary source, which may require a subscription. It's a good analysis IMHO, but a few of the genes are usually too fast for this question, and extreme caution/paranoia is always appropriate when considering analyses of data from non-coding genes, because the plain ugly truth is that no-one really knows how to align them. My take is that their handling of the non-coding data was appropriately conservative, closer to the best than to the worst that I've seen lately. I think they're probably right, their analysis is certainly stronger than many that get this much play in the media, but it ain't over.

Titles like "Death of an Order" really bother me though, because the fact that you stop calling it an order and start calling it a family carries no biological information.

Also, fungi are more closely related to animals then to plants, in case anyone cares.
posted by Eothele at 9:57 AM on June 6, 2007


Still, I wonder who would win if it came down to humanity vs. the termites.

Termites represent 10% of the biomass of all land animals. They would win. (In that we could not destroy them without killing our selves off as well.)
posted by quin at 10:12 AM on June 6, 2007


Termites Are Cockroaches is a fine band name, by the way.
posted by davejay at 8:26 PM on June 6, 2007


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