Heroic Animals More Common Than Thought

Creatures including dolphins, monkeys, fruit bats and even ants are all capable of selflessly coming to the rescue of others, researchers found.Dr Elise Nowbahari, from the University of Paris, said there is mounting evidence that willingness to go to the aid of others at personal risk is common in a range of species and far from a solely human trait.

Dolphins endanger themselves to rescue trapped dolphins, lifting an injured dolphin to the water’s surface to help it breathe, she said.Monkeys will drive away an attacker from a vulnerable female or infants and female fruit bats help other fruit bats in labour to ease the birth.

She also said that ants frequently help other ants from the same colony if they are caught in traps or by a predator – though their heroism does not extend to helping ants from other colonies whose actual cries for help are ignored.One of the biggest internet hits is a film of buffalo fighting off lions that had attacked one of their young in the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
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Crazy Rasberry Ants: New Species Of Ants

rasberry ants

Poor Texas. First it was killer bees, then fire ants. Now, it’s the Rasberry ants.The invasion of this new species of ants has scientists intrigued, businesses concerned and fire ants running for the hills, said Jerry Cook, an entomologist at Sam Houston State University. Cook and other scientists are at a loss to explain the fast and furious spread of the rapacious ant, which is named after exterminator Tom Rasberry, who discovered the ant in 2002.

The bug was discovered in Houston in 2002 and has quickly spread as far north as Louisiana and Mississippi within the last year.

“This is a species that we do not know much about. Presumably the ant came from the Caribbean through the Port of Houston,” Cook said. “We know the ant is in the Paratrechina genus and is capable of growing a population of billions and they need to eat. They especially like other bugs, like fire ants and honey bees.”

The population is growing so fast, and so large, that it is potentially an ecosystem disaster, according to Cook.“If the Rasberry ant can virtually eliminate a pain like the fire ant, what else is it capable of doing?” he said. “If bees are eliminated, plants will not be pollinated which could result to the lack of crops producing fruits and vegetables. That in turn becomes a major problem for the agriculture community. They could become more than a nuisance, they could become a danger”.


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Chimpanzees Develop ‘Specialized Tool Kits’ To Catch Army Ants

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Chimpanzees in the Congo have developed specialised ‘tool kits’ to forage for army ants, reveals new research published today in the American Journal of Primatology. This not only provides the first direct evidence of multiple tool use in this context, but suggests that chimpanzees have developed a ’sustainable’ way of harvesting food.

A team from the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project, led by Dr Crickette Sanz, studied several communities of chimpanzee throughout the Nouabalé-Ndoki national park in the Republic of Congo. After spending a collective 111 months in the Goualougo Triangle, the team recovered 1,060 tools and collected 25 video recordings of chimpanzees using them to forage for army ants
“The use of tool sets is rare and has most often been observed in great apes,” said Sanz. “Until now there have been no reports of regular use of more than one type of tool to prey upon army ants.”

It is already known that chimpanzees use tools when foraging for honey or collecting termites. However the variation in techniques and the relationship between the ants and the chimpanzees has perplexed scientists for decades.
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Ants More Rational Than Humans

In a study released online on July 22 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, scientists at Arizona State University and Princeton University show that ants can accomplish a task more rationally than our multimodal, egg-headed, tool-using, bipedal, opposing-thumbed selves.
This is not the case of humans being “stupider” than ants. Humans and animals simply often make irrational choices when faced with very challenging decisions, note the study’s architects Stephen Pratt and Susan Edwards.

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“This paradoxical outcome is based on apparent constraint: most individual ants know of only a single option, and the colony’s collective choice self-organizes from interactions among a number of poorly-informed ants,” says Pratt, an assistant professor in the School of Life Sciences in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The authors’ insights arose from an examination of the process of nest selection in the ant, Temnothorax curvispinosus. These ant colonies live in small cavities, as small as an acorn, and are skillful in finding new places to roost. The challenge before the colony was to “choose” a nest, when offered two options with very similar advantages.

What the authors found is that in collective decision-making in ants, the lack of individual options translated into more accurate outcomes by minimizing the chances for individuals to make mistakes. A “wisdom of crowds” approach emerges, Pratt believes………

(source)