An ant brain is tiny, about 1/40,000th the size of a human brain (ants have 250,000 brain cells vs. humans’ 10,000,000 brain cells) so it goes without saying, they’re not too bright. But an ant colony of 40,000 ants collectively has the same size brain as a human and working together as a group, they are capable of extraordinary feats. Together they may not be able to drive a car, work a computer, or send a text message but check out the amazing video below which shows a colony of ants forming a long daisy-chain in order to pull a dead millipede back to their nest.
Ants are what biologists call a “superorganism” – a social unit with an uncanny ability to work together as a group. Ants are organized as classes (queens, males, and workers) which work together to carry out tasks such as finding food, fighting off enemies, and carrying things back to their lavish ant homes. Scientists are not quite sure how they accomplish this amazing feat but believe it is partly related to their ability to follow the pheromone trail (a smelly odor that only ants can smell) of their fellow ants. These pheromones act as chemical signals which tell the other ants what to do. For instance, a crushed ant emits an “alarm pheromone” that sends nearby ants into an attack frenzy and attracts more ants from farther away while an ant in the cafeteria line that notices there is only one slice of pie left sends out a pheromone that tells the other ants the teacher is calling them.
Lest you think ant colonies may someday be smart enough to take over the world, check out the video below which shows that sometimes the wires in the ant colony get crossed. Below are clips of “ant vortexes” which are formed when ants begin to hopelessly follow the pheromone trail of the ant in front of them – in circles. Their dedication to the cause is such that the ants will eventually die of exhaustion (forming a pile of dead ants in the center of the circle).