Indian Ants That Can Shrink And Regrow Their Brain

By Anthony K

Image Courtesy of BioTecNika Global

In a majority of ant species, royalty is inborn. However, for the Indian jumping ants (Harpegnathos saltator), the crown can be fought for by female workers. The winner has crowned the queen but also has to shrink its brain. Certain female ants participate in an antenna boxing match that can last for about a month to know who the next matriarch will be. The female who emerges victorious then expands her ovaries while shrinking her brain to about three-quarters its original size. Scientists have even discovered a weird twist of these forced-jawed, black-eyed, forest-dwelling creatures. If a female gets overthrown from her queenly thrown, she reverts to being a worker, regrowing her brain, shrinking her ovaries, and resuming her former duties.

The scientist published the study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. They believe that this is a deed that is very rare in the animal kingdom and perhaps one that has never been seen before. One of the study’s authors and an Assistant professor of biology at Kennesaw State University, Clint Penick, proclaimed the uniqueness of Indian ants. “These ants shed a portion of their brain mass to preserve some energy and push resources to the ovaries for purposes of reproduction.” He said.

Image Courtesy of The New York Times

Like most ant colonies, the Indian jumping ants have a queen and thousands of workers who clean the queen’s eggs, search for food and feed the larvae. However, there are no many other similarities. In comparison, most ant colonies’ lifespans depend on that of the queen. For, Indian Jumping ant, when the queen dies, more than half of the colonies fight to get another queen and, in a colony made of about 100 ants, about 5 to 10 ants became the queens.