According to a study published recently on the widely read journal Science, the Saharan silver ants possess the ability to survive at an extreme temperature of 158 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the authors of the study, these creatures manages to cope with such torrid desert weather using their unique coat of hair; this special coat helps the Saharan silver spiders to keep their body cool even when the surrounding temperature is excessively high.
The silver ants of Sahara are tiny creatures; usually, their length is not more than three-eighth of an inch. The special hair covering their body become highly reflective when exposed to near-infrared, visible light. When in the electromagnetic spectrum’s mid-infrared part, the hairs of these ants start dispelling heat in form of thermal radiation.
Nanfang Yu, one of the coauthors of the study and a renowned physicist representing the Columbia University, said that hair holds the key to the survival of these desert ants. Yu added that the hottest time of the day is the phase during which maximum number of dead insects can be found. He further said that within very little time, those dead insects can be buried by sand or blown away by raging wind.
According to Yu, this is a notable example of how evolution allows creatures to adapt in order to accomplish different essential physiological tasks and make sure that they can survive beating all the interfering external factors.
It’s true that the Saharan silver ants live in underground nests where temperatures are usually much lower. However, they need to come out of their underground nests in search of food and for that they had to find ways of withstanding a temperature as high as 158 degrees Fahrenheit. In such extreme heat, these tiny ants can also avoid the predatory lizards.
To live, the silver ants of Sahara need to keep their body temperature less than 128.4 degrees Fahrenheit. The special hair coating helps them in doing that naturally.
According to Yu, the special hair coat of Saharan silver ants might inspire formulation of heat-proof paints and other such components that can be used on rooftops and cars.