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A New angle on ants' scents of direction..

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posted on Dec, 16 2004 @ 12:47 AM
Pharaoh ants use an appreciation of geometry to find their way home.Worker pharaoh ants travel to and from their colony along a series of branching paths scented with pheromones. But until now it was unclear how the ants knew which branch would lead them home.Duncan Jackson and his colleagues at the University of Sheffield, UK, noticed that various species of leafcutter and pharaoh ants - Monomorium pharaonis - lay trails radiating out from the nest that fork at an angle of 50 to 60.

When a returning ant reaches a fork in the trail, it usually takes the path which deviates least. In other words, it will change direction slightly to the right or left but will not make an acute turn back on itself. This means it always takes the path that leads back to the colony.The researchers confirmed that 60 is the optimum angle by placing ants on artificial scent-laden trails in the lab. As the angles of the forks were increased from 60 to 120, the ants became less and less successful at returning home.

This should proove once and for all that geometry isn't that difficult afterall,and it could save your life one day.As for the Ants my hat goes off to them....let's face it, better finding their way back to their colony rather than opting to jump down the next 60 angle all the way to Yuranus....

I was'nt sure if this would go under 'Space Exploration',so I thought it might fall under Media...

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