At the pinnacle of social cooperation, army ants overwhelm their prey through their sheer force of numbers.
In Japanese the word "ant" is intricately written by linking two characters: one meaning "insect," the other meaning "loyalty."
These marvelous little creatures have been on Earth for more than 140 million years
Ants are our co-rulers of the land. An estimated ten thousand trillion strong worldwide, they weigh very roughly the same as all of humanity. They abound everywhere except on icy mountain peaks and around the Poles. From underground to treetops, they serve as the chief predators of insects and other invertebrates and the principal scavengers of small dead bodies. Although their 12,000 known species compose only about 1.4 percent of the world's insect species, their share of the collective body weight is easily ten times greater
Building a Living Nest
Classic army ants, members of the species Eciton burchellii don't keep a permanent nest but build one every day-with their own bodies. The ants begin by linking toe to toe from an overhang, like a fallen log. Others climb on until the entire colony forms a structure of 300,000 to 700,000 ants. Appropriately for army ants, these temporary nests are called bivouacs.
Army ants dominate other ants in their tropical environment not only by killing them but by stealing their food.
Ants are important for more than their ubiquity and environmental impact. They also exhibit social behavior as exotic as any we may ever hope to ﬁnd on another planet. For most of each year colonies consist only of females: queens that reproduce for the colony and infertile workers that conduct all the labor. Males are bred and kept for short periods, exclusively for the insemination of virgin queens. The communication systems of ants are radically nonhuman. Where we use sound and sight, they depend primarily on pheromones, chemicals secreted by individuals and smelled or tasted by nestmates. Since the brain of an ant weighs less than one-millionth as much as a human brain, it is not surprising that a given species produces just ten to twenty signals. Unlike human language, these messages are entirely instinctual.
The ways of Eciton burchellii helped give rise to the name army ant. Their colonies are huge, ranging from 300,000 to 700,000. They are mobile, moving from nest site to nest site. Though not all army ant species share these characteristics, there's one hallmark they have in common: a shock-and-awe hunting strategy. Other ants search for food individually, sometimes using scouts. Army ants set out en masse. Being blind, they can't see what's ahead of them, but moving in such numbers they easily overwhelm their prey. For E. burchelliithat's usually non-army ants and large arthropods. They can also kill, but don't eat, lizards, snakes, and frogs that fail to get out of the way. Their attack formation is called a swarm raid. As many as 200,000 ants leave the nest in a swarm that broadens into a fan as wide as 15 yards. Specialized birds follow the raiders, picking off prey as it scatters in vain attempt to survive.
DATE : 28 FEB 2011
The World’s Biggest Construction Vehicles
Krupp Bagger 288: World’s Largest Trencher
To put it lightly, the Bagger 288 is a bucket-wheel excavator. But there’s nothing light about a 13,500-ton mobile strip miner. The German creation is 721 feet long, 315 feet high, and can clear an area the size of a football field three stories deep—in just one day.
Armored Caterpillar D9R
Its nickname is Doobi (Hebrew for teddy bear) but this heavily armored bulldozer is anything but soft and cuddly. With 15 tons of Israeli-engineered armor protecting the entire machine and bulletproof windows sealing in the cabin, this monster machine is equipped for construction, rescue, demolition, and even defending itself with custom-fitted grenade launchers and machine guns.
Liebherr LTM 11200-9.1
The Liebherr LTM 11200-9.1 telescopic crane is ridiculous. It can lift up to 1,200 tons. It’s boom extends to 100 meters long with up to 126 meters of additional lattice. Rolling along on a nine-axle suspension, this bad boy can handle any job. Disc brakes come standard.
LeTourneau L-2350 Front End Loader
The world’s largest rubber-tire front loading vehicle of its kind, the L-2350’s bucket is roughly the size of a studio apartment. It has a 2,300 horsepower engine capable of lifting up to 160,000 lbs. The operator stands two stories off the ground, and the mammoth bucket extends to a maximum height of nearly 44 feet.
Rusch Triple 34-25 with Genesis 2500 Demolition Shear
Quite possibly the largest demolition shear in the world, the Genesis 2500 wields devastating power, especially mounted on the Rusch excavator. It is a destruction machine with Godzilla-like force.
Scientist have discovered flying snakes.Flying snake is a misnomer, since, barring a strong updraft, these animals can’t actually gain altitude. Biomechanist Jake Socha of Virginia Tech and his colleagues launched one such species of “flying” snakes, Chrysopelea paradise, from a 15-meter tall tower, then videotaped and analyzed the snakes’ exact body positions throughout their flights.
Four cameras recorded the curious snakes as they glided. This allowed them to create and analyze 3-D reconstructions of the animal’s body positions during flight — work that Socha recently presented at the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD) meeting in Long Beach, CA.
There are five recognized species of flying snake, found from western India to the Indonesian archipelago. Knowledge of their behavior in the wild is limited, but they are thought to be highly arboreal, rarely descending from the canopy. The smallest species reach about 2 feet (61 centimeters) in length and the largest grow to 4 feet (1.2 meters).