Heavy pieces of food are lifted by a big team of ants lacking direction, which a small group consisted of scouts interfere and guide them to make the trip shorter. Researchers are saying that these scouts seem to possess mathematically perfect balance between conformism and individuality.
Researchers came to the above conclusion after analyzing videos showing ants carrying massive food items such as Cheerios. The complete study has been published in the widely read science journal Nature Communications.
The ant species used for this study is known as longhorn crazy ant, a very common variety of ant. The name of this particular ant species is derived from the method it used to dash about, often changing its direction with aimless abandon; at least it appears so.
However, the findings of this new study indicate that the aimlessness observed in the longhorn crazy ants is actually extremely finely tuned.
Dr. Ofer Feinerman, a senior author of the paper, said that these ants are tuned to show maximum sensitivity to their leader ants. Dr. Feinerman is a physicist representing the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.
He added that ants appear to possess just the perfect level of fickle individualism. They tend to go with the flow and move in the same direction as others in the group nearly 90% of the time. They show the craziness in the remaining 10% of the time.
This means that in general, every ant completes team work as a unit and does the needful to avoid any fruitless chaos. However, here, it must be mentioned that the fickle streak observed in these tiny creatures leaves a certain level of instability. As a result, often it’s seen that a single ant carrying fresh information joins the group and changes its direction. This single ant is the leader of the group.
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Dr. Feinerman said that the leader doesn’t need to introduce herself after joining the group and it’s also not necessary that she is stronger than other ants in the group. The only thing the leader must be capable of doing is pulling in the right direction.
So, the system goes like this: the large groups ensure that the big food chunk is transported fast and these scouts look after the navigation.