Astronomers Make New Discoveries About Nearest Millisecond Pulsar

How did ants communicate with each other millions of years ago?

About the episode

The antennae on the heads of ants have different functions. They use them to detect pheromones that tell them about danger, routes and social context.

But when did ants start doing it this way? Thanks to a 100-million-year-old fossil of a now-extinct species of ant, we now know this a little better.

Researchers studied ancient ants in amber and saw that they had the same microscopic, hair-like structures on their antennae as modern ants. This suggests, but does not prove, that ants actually communicate using pheromones.

Scientists are now curious to see if they can use this new knowledge to say something about the success of this species of animal.

Social structure certainly has something to do with this. Previous research has already shown that ants have been using this for a long time. For example, a queen was found with workers of the same species in a fossil dating back 99 million years.

But it is not yet clear how these insects communicate. The chemicals in amber are not well preserved, the same goes for the organs that produce these substances in ants.

Hence this new approach: not studying the materials, not producing them, but rather the receiver in the form of an antenna. What they can conclude from this is that there is a very good chance that ants were already communicating using chemicals when they first arrived, 100 million years ago.

Read more about the research here: The antennae of early ants may have allowed them to speak using pheromones

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *