Ricky M.'s Thoughts

My thoughts on life, relationships, religion, spirituality, the paranormal and more.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Suicidal Ants


When the experts looked to nature, they encountered suicide bombers among the ants. Bert Holldobler and Edward O. Wilson, in their book Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration, explain that the colony is the unit of meaning in the lives of ants. For the loyal, sterile worker ant, the key issue is the protection of both its queen ant and its worker brothers and reproductive sisters so that they can survive to establish new colonies. In one ant species, worker ants will voluntarily commit suicide to defend their colony, exploding themselves by muscular contraction to spray poison over their enemies. Holldobler and Wilson call destroying enemies by committing suicide in defense of the colony “the ultimate sacrifice in public service” for the ant.

Interesting. The problem with this idea, is that it seems to conflict with the the idea of natural selection'.


Natural selection is the process by which individual organisms with favorable traits are more likely to survive and reproduce than those with unfavorable traits. Natural selection works on the whole individual, but only the heritable component of a trait will be passed on to the offspring, with the result that favorable, heritable traits become more common in the next generation. Given enough time, this passive process can result in adaptations and speciation (see evolution).

Isn't 'natural selection' one of the ideas of evolution? As it says 'individual organisms with favorable traits are more likely to survive and reproduce', why then has this kind of ants survived? One possibility is that the specific ant specie which they are in actually thrives better due to this specific kind of ants within them, hence making this specie more survivable. I really don't know, we might as well ask a 'evolution' expert on this one.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are there still many ugly fat midgets who are also dumb,unwise, and unkind, and unfit and useless in this planet? They should sacrifice their lives and go to Lebanon now.

8:25 AM  
Anonymous matanglawin said...


The basis for natural selection among lower life forms, especially those in a "colony" system, like ants and bees, are never the lowly, sterile drones. That's what they are built for, to defend the colony. Others are built to gather food, and others still to tend to the young of the colony. These ants are not uniques among themselves. They are basically clones of one another

That leaves the Queen, and a few "select" drones programmed for reproduction.

12:11 AM  

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