Ants Were Socializing and Sparring Nearly 100 Million Years Ago

Science Scope, April-May 2016 | Go to article overview

Ants Were Socializing and Sparring Nearly 100 Million Years Ago


Like people, ants have often fought over food and territory. But ants began fighting long before humans: at least 99 million years ago, according to a recent study. The ant wars began in the Cretaceous period, when enormous dinosaurs thrived on Earth. "That's a trait of ants," says Phillip Barden, lead author of the study. "Many ant species do that all the time. They're always warring with either other individuals of the same species from different colonies or with different species." The fighting ants and others trapped in ancient Burmese amber from Myanmar are among the earliest known ants and are not direct ancestors of modern ants. The study also provides strong evidence that ancient ants, like modern ants, were social. That's because the researchers found 21 worker ants inside one piece of amber--a rare find.

Today, scientists have described 13,000 species of living ants, and some researchers believe at least twice as many exist. Scientists think that some of today's ants are related to ones that lived 99 million years ago. …

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Ants Were Socializing and Sparring Nearly 100 Million Years Ago
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