Protecting Cows—and People—from a Deadly Disease
New Gene Fights Potato Blight
Watering the Air
Poison Dart Frogs
Young Ants in the Kitchen
Mating Slows Down Prairie Dogs
Fishy Cleaners
Face values
Storing Memories before Bedtime
Fish needs see-through head
Chemistry and Materials
A Diamond Polish for Ancient Tools
Salt secrets
Music of the Future
New twists for phantom limbs
Batteries built by Viruses
Troubles with Hubble
Dinosaurs and Fossils
A Really Big (but Extinct) Rodent
Fossil Fly from Antarctica
Watery Fate for Nature's Gliders
E Learning Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Earth from the inside out
Getting the dirt on carbon
Rocking the House
The Birds are Falling
Toxic Cleanups Get a Microbe Boost
Pollution Detective
Finding the Past
If Only Bones Could Speak
Untangling Human Origins
Meet your mysterious relative
Puffer Fish
Food and Nutrition
The mercury in that tuna
The Color of Health
Symbols from the Stone Age
GSAT English Rules
Adjectives and Adverbs
Who vs. That vs. Which
Who vs. Whom
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Scotiabank Jamaica Foundation Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) Scholarships
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
GSAT Exam Preparation
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT Exam Preparation
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
GSAT Mathematics
It's a Math World for Animals
Math is a real brain bender
Secrets of an Ancient Computer
Human Body
Workouts: Does Stretching Help?
A Long Trek to Asia
A Fix for Injured Knees
Daddy Long Legs
Killer Whales
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
How children learn
Strange Universe: The Stuff of Darkness
Invisibility Ring
Dreams of Floating in Space
Getting the dirt on carbon
Seeds of the Future
Tracking the Sun Improves Plant Pollen
Komodo Dragons
Space and Astronomy
Big Galaxy Swallows Little Galaxy
Wrong-way planets do gymnastics
Solving a Sedna Mystery
Technology and Engineering
Riding Sunlight
Slip Sliming Away
Crime Lab
The Parts of Speech
Adjectives and Adverbs
What is a Noun
What is a Verb?
Robots on the Road, Again
Troubles with Hubble
Tinkering With the Basic Bike
Polar Ice Feels the Heat
Science loses out when ice caps melt
Earth's Poles in Peril
Add your Article

Stunts for High-Diving Ants

Make way for a new kind of stunt-creature: ants. Some tree-dwelling ants that live in the tropics can twist themselves in the air to change the direction of their tumbles when they fall. They end up catching on to the trunk and climbing back home. It's like death-defying stuntwomen in movies who leap off buildings and cliffs but manage to grab onto objects to save themselves. Stephen P. Yanoviak of University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston first noticed such maneuvers among members of the ant species called Cephalotes atratus when he was sitting high up in a tree. A bunch of ants swarmed all over him, so Yanoviak brushed them off. As the insects fell, he noticed something interesting. Most of the ants didn't fall straight down. In fact, they seemed to be changing their direction so they could grab back on to the tree trunk instead of hitting the ground. So, Yanoviak brought out his video camera to make sure he wasn't just imagining things. Because the ants are black, he painted some of them white so he could see better what was happening to them. Then, he climbed to the top of a tree and dropped thousands of the painted ants from branches about 3 meters (9 feet) away from the trunk. He filmed their falls. After analyzing the videos, Yanoviak found that 85 percent of the dropped ants landed on the tree trunk. Some bounced off on their first try but were able to latch on farther down. The ants seemed to be controlling their own destiny. If it had happened by chance, only about 8 percent of them would've hit the trunk, Yanoviak says. In fact, when he covered their eyes, that's about how many of them reached tree trunks. Their wide heads and flattened rear legs seem to be the key to these amazing feats of ant tumbling, Yanoviak says. For this species in particular, being able to move around in the air seems to be a great strategy for survival. This ant species lives in the tops of trees. Hitting the ground after a long fall wouldn't kill the ants, but it would put them in danger of getting eaten by predators or losing their way back home, Yanoviak says. At the same time, having wings could have disadvantages, such as getting in the way of moving around in a treetop nest. Now that scientists know what these ants can do, 007, the super-secret-agent ant, may soon be coming to a theater near you!—E. Sohn

Stunts for High-Diving Ants
Stunts for High-Diving Ants

Designed and Powered by™