There are quite a lot of animal species with strong social characteristics which are able to undertake difficult tasks without a leader to coordinate them. Most of these species can build complex animal architecture, surprising people with their exact precision and organized structure. From all these animals, fire ants have already reached a superior level of building skills.
Fire ants build structure to survive floods
These ants originate in Pantanal, West Brazil, an area which is periodically flooded. Fire ants needed to find a survival mechanism to cope with the flooding, so they developed several skills which bound them together as a community. First of all, they could keep themselves afloat until all water went away by sticking together and creating some sort of ant-raft.
The second and more complex mechanism consists of building towers. These help them reach higher places away from water, and are also the basis of their underground tunnels. Researchers took an interest in this tower-building technique, which made the subject of a new study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
What is the secret of the ant tower?
They thought that, after discovering the ants’ building secret, they would be able to use the same technology for man-made buildings. Nature-inspired design is always a great solution to erect structures to last throughout time.
To see how fire ants put up their towers, researchers injected them with radioactive substances, and then performed X-ray scans on them while they were building complex structures. They saw how these towers were constantly moving, namely they sank and, then, the ants formed them again.
Researchers also wondered what rules fire ants followed to build these towers, and discovered there aren’t any. They are probably moving atop each other and occupy the first free place they find, until the structure is formed. Also, they can predict how high a structure can be, and move accordingly.
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