(The Gist of Science Reporter) World’s Fastest Ant  [APRIL-2020]

(The Gist of Science Reporter) World’s Fastest Ant


World’s Fastest Ant

  • Of the 1200 species of ants known, a species known as Saharan Silver ant found in the desert are the world’s fastest ants.
  • These ants routinely brave the blazing hot-midday sun to forage for food.
  • They are technically known as Cataglyphis bombycina and commonly known as Saharan silver ants.
  • These ants are one of the most heat-resistant animals known.
  • Their critical thermal maximum is 56°C and they run at a speed up to 0.7 m/second.
  • Their body is covered on the top and sides with uniquely triangular shaped hairs which serve as an antireflection layer that enhances the ants’ ability to offload excess heat by thermal radiation which is emitted from the hot body of the ants to the air.
  • These ants have long legs to keep their bodies away from the sand.
  • While running at high speed they use only four of their six legs, raising their front pair of legs.
  • This ant is the fastest of all well known ant species.
  • It covers 108 times its own body length per second.
  • This is quicker than an Olympic 100 m runner.
  • They are active outside their nest for about ten minutes/day due to pressure of predation and temperature.
  • They come outside in midday when the temperature is around 47°C.
  • The whole colony of ants leaves the nest in search of food and have to complete their work before the temperature reaches 53°C.
  • The navigational capabilities of these ants have been the subject of numerous scientific investigations.
  • The suggestion that the ants use polarized light as a guide, is contradicted by the observation that they are able to assess how far they have walked even in the dark.
  • Another experiment concluded that the ants measure the distance travelled by sensory ability called proprioception that counted the number of steps taken.
  • The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology (October 2019).


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Courtesy: Science Reporter