Indian jumping ants may shrink, restore brains, study finds

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Although this is the most evolved species, there are some things that humans simply cannot do. Like, change the size of our brain. Over the years, it has been found that some members of the animal kingdom possess the ability to increase the size of their brains. And now, a new study has found that Indian jumping ants can do it too. What sets them apart is the fact that these ants cannot just increase their brain size, but also later restore it to their previous state.

According to a study published Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, scientists have found that Indian jumping ants can shrink their brains by as much as 20% and restore them in a matter of weeks. With this, he can become the first insect to exhibit this ability. According to the study, this feature is used by female members of the species to prepare for reproduction.

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The ability is also related to the position of the female in the hierarchy of the colony. Unlike other ant species, Indian jumping ants allow female members to compete for the place of the queen of the colony. Usually, queens are the only ants allowed to breed, and male ants facilitate reproduction. But once the queen dies, more than half of the worker ants of this species enter into a contest to cement their position as the next leader.

According to a New York Times report, for about 40 days, the women compete in a sort of tournament by “fighting with their antennae.” The last five or ten ants standing are allowed to breed, which they do brilliantly.

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The tournament highlights an intense physiological transformation in the queen of reproductive ants, called gamergates. “If you look inside their bodies, you can see the huge transformations they are going through,” said Dr. Clint Penick, assistant professor of biology at Kennesaw State University in Georgia and senior author of the new study.

The study found that gamergates had five-fold enlarged ovaries. Along with this, their brains have also shrunk by around 20%.

Explaining that unlike worker ants, gamergates do not need to engage in cognitive tasks, Dr Penick said: “Once they win the tournament, they don’t become much more than machines. lay.

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By isolating them from their colonies, the team found that they had returned to their original brain size and resumed worker behavior. “It was quite amazing how they were able to completely re-enlarge their brains to the same size as before,” he told The Guardian.


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