January 24, 2007

Just How Strong Is An Ant?

Ants are amazing fascinating creatures. They could honestly be considered the dominant species on earth. There are 9,500 known species of ants. This makes up only about 1.3% of the 750,000 known insect species. Yet this 1.3% makes up about half the total body mass, or weight, of all insects on earth!

Ants are the undertakers of their world. They carry back to their nests over 90% of the dead bodies of animals in their size range. Underground in their nests they are busy moving more soil than earthworms. Thus they are moving and circulating huge quantities of nutrients that are vital to the health of the entire ecosystem. We humans need the ants a lot more they need us. In fact, the ants might say they don't need us at all. But what do they know?

Their success is impressive. In many ways they do seem super. But it is not super strength. Their real source of strength is in organization, unity of purpose, persistance, and sheer huge numbers.
Individual ants are not super strong. They are about what you would expect for a small animal with a jointed exoskeleton. If you could zap one with the "Honey I Blew Up the Kid" ray gun so that it was as big as a human or galapagos tortoise, it would be in big trouble. Though humans are not a particularly strong animal, as large mammals go, they would be a lot stronger than the poor ant who would probably be unable to even lift its own weight.

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