The ants that shrink your brain

Are there ants that can shrink your brain? It is found in most species of ants. The males and the queen are the only members of the colony that can reproduce. If the queen dies, the anthill is doomed. But now researchers from New York University and Arizona have found something. A unique species. Your workers can physically transform to become the new queen. They are the ants that shrink your brain … and enlarge your ovaries. The results have just been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The ants that shrink your brain are called jumping.
The ants that shrink your brain are called jumping.
Fight for power

It has been proven over years of observation. When the queen of a colony of Indian jumping ants (Harpegnathos Saltator) dies, the others fight each other. They want to get their jobs. What happens when you win? Your brain size will decrease and your ovaries will increase. This allows her to take over the functions of the queen.

The competitions mainly consisted of poking other women with their antennae. At some point a consensus will be reached. One of the participants is declared the winner, although it is not yet clear how that decision will be made. While the “struggle” continues, the workers continue their work. Even those who compete. That is, they are only “stung” by the ants they encounter on their way while performing their normal tasks.

The ants fight among themselves for a new queen.
The ants fight among themselves for a new queen.
New queen

Then the new queen is founded. The worker changes physically and becomes the new pregnant woman in the beehive. His ovaries grow to populate the anthill, and his brain shrinks by up to 25%. And they wouldn’t be the only changes. It stops producing poison and changes its behavior to hide from intruders. Of course, stop hunting to be fed.

Investigators removed some of the workers from their colony. They made her compete to be a new queen. They waited for the chosen one to change physically. It was later reintroduced into the same anthill. So they found out that the other ants had cornered them for a while without letting them move. At that moment, his body turned back into a worker ant. “It’s a level of plasticity that has never been seen in an insect,” the authors emphasize. Brain-shrinking ants defy all records.

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