Monday, August 21

ants launch themselves like Evil Knievel

A species of ant can launch itself far in the air by biting the ground with its powerful mandibles, a new study shows. The trap-jaw ants latch onto the ground, and when their bite suddenly loses grip, it snaps their heads back with what looks like severe whiplash, and launching their whole body into flight.

In one video from the new study, an ant has its head down, biting the ground, and it launches more than 10 times its length into the air (see video). In another, an ant does a horizontal launch, jumping over several other ants, like Evil Knievel jumping his motorcycle over a bunch of cars. (See the video here.)

The ants could have evolved to make these quick jumps to quickly flee from predators, researchers suspect. But I just liked how it looks. There are some funny videos of this, which come along with a scientific report out today. They're in super slow motion, and when the ants land on the ground, you can imagine a huge thud—the slow motion makes them seem like much bigger creatures, which makes the whole thing even more farcical.

Read more about it in news story, or just enjoy the photo collage below that I made from one of the videos.


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