It was revealed how ants build their houses

It was revealed how ants build their houses
It was revealed how ants build their houses

Engineers and biologists watched the ant colony in order to understand how they dig their cities. Research can help to more efficiently conduct underground work: for example, during the construction of a subway.


Underground ant cities are an art. They are tunnels descending downward, which branch out and lead to a variety of "halls": for the queen, her cubs, growing mushrooms or garbage dumps. These cities are very large, reaching seven meters in length and have existed for decades without collapsing.

Scientists from the California Institute of Technology, Kansas State University (USA) and the Polytechnic Institute of Grenoble (France) decided to find out exactly how ants build their homes. According to the authors of the work, this will also help a person: first of all, it will be more efficient to dig underground, extract minerals or dig underground tunnels. The researchers published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The colony of ants was observed throughout the year, studying their activity. The scientists then scanned the tunnels with X-rays and examined them using three-dimensional scans. As a result, it was possible to create models that clearly demonstrate the progress that insects have made as the tunnels widen.

The researchers then proceeded to analyze what the ants were actually doing while they were working.

It turned out that they tried to act as efficiently as possible: they dug tunnels using the walls of the container to reduce volume, and also made the moves as straight and as steep as possible. The ants also removed the hardest grains from the soil so that they would not interfere with digging and collapse into the tunnel.

Nevertheless, scientists came to the conclusion that all this insects did "unconsciously": they rather obeyed an instinct that helped dig, without violating the laws of physics. That is, this is not the behavior of an individual ant, but the coordinated actions of a superorganism - a colony. What is the secret of this behavior is a mystery, but scientists hope to use it to create artificial intelligence that will mimic the technique of insects.

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