The scientists now studied several ant colonies living in Panama. Three colonies tracked and filmed them on their natural roads, and in two other colonies they inserted several planks in the main paths into which holes of different sizes were drilled.
When an unloaded ant reaches a hole, it first examines the size of the gap and crawls around the edge, the researchers observed. To find out if it fits in the hole, the ant spreads its legs over the hole, rocking back and forth and finally hanging motionless in the cavity. For larger holes, several ants cooperate with each other to fill them. The other prey-laden ants crawl over the living stoppers. "Once the traffic has passed, the ants crawl out of the pothole and follow their companions back into the nest, " Powell explains.
Due to this special behavior, the ants can accelerate the transport of prey and thus also significantly improve the daily food supply for the entire colony. The study shows how an extremely specialized minority can increase the majority's performance and help the entire group, the researchers say. displayScott Powell & Nigel Franks (University of Bristol): Animal Behavior, Online Advance Release, DOI: 10.1016 / j.anbehav.2006.11.005 ddp / science.de? Claudia Hilbert