Who Are the Master Builders?

If you think humans are the most efficient at building cities and other intricate structures, you may have overlooked another species — ants.

An abandoned colony of grass-cutter ants was located, and scientists decided to study it in depth. First they filled the empty chambers and passageways with concrete. Then they excavated around the concrete to expose the structure. What they found was amazing.

First, the filling part took three days and ten tons of concrete. Second, clearing away the soil to expose the structure took weeks of digging. The result appeared to be the work of a master architect, but it was actually the collective instinct of thousands of insects (Star Trek fans think miniature Borg).

The entire investigation was documented in Ants! Natures Secret Power. A summery can be found in a 3:15 video clip on (of course) YouTube, which can be accessed through “Watch what happens when scientists excavate a giant anthill” by Emily Howard (https://earthsky.org/earth/video-giant-ant-hill-excavation?11693). It’s a fascinating peek into nature, even if it’s a bit humbling for us humans.

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