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These Indian Jumping Ants Can Shrink their Brains to Take Over as the Queen

File image by AFP. (Representative)

File image by AFP. (Representative)

The colonies of these unique ants don't cease to exist even after the death of the queen and selected workers take her position instead.

You would be amazed to know that there are some species in the world that can alter the size of their brain. And as per new research, some species can also even reshape their brains back to their original size. Meet the Indian jumping ants in this regard. The colonies of these unique insects don't cease to exist even after the death of the queen and selected workers take her position instead. What's unique in this process is that the workers while taking charge of the queen shrink their brain size and expand ovaries to give birth to offsprings.

Furthermore, the workers can alter their bodies back to normal once they are done with the role of the queen. It is generally determined whether an ant would serve as a worker or a queen from the stage of larva itself. An ant with the right set of hormones and a well-nourished body is chosen to be the queen of the colony while others live performing their duties as workers. The case with Indian jumping ants however is a different ballgame altogether.

A worker ant's job responsibility includes cleaning, caring for the offsprings, hunting for food and similar other tasks. The colonies of the Indian jumping ants survive for an infinite amount of time as compared to the other colonies of ants which cease to exist after the death of the queen, as reported by The Guardian.

Ants along with some other insects stick to a cast-based system wherein the sole responsibility of the queen is to reproduce which she performs by emitting pheromones. Interestingly other female worker ants are not permitted to lay eggs.

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As per Dr Clint Penich, the lead author in US's Kennesaw State University, the Indian jumping ants possess the ability to modify themselves completely even at the adult stage and this makes it interesting to study.

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first published:April 15, 2021, 15:21 IST