Thursday, 22 September 2016

Smart Ants Build Quick Impromptu Bridges

An ant bridge. Image courtesy of Geoff Gallice, Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0).

Joel Kontinen

Ants are ingenious creatures. While they have a miniature brain, they can do some basic arithmetic, and build living rafts and huge anthills.

Some of these structures are over 9 metres (30 feet) high. Taking their size into account, humans would have to erect buildings that are over 2 kilometres (1.25 miles) high to be able to compete with these clever builders.

Some ants have come up with an elaborate farming system. Evolutionists believe this happened some “25 million years” ago.

Recently, New Scientist (NS) described another amazing ability, viz. bridge building, that ants are good at:

“BARRO Colorado Island is tiny and sits in the middle of the Panama Canal. Here, below the forest dome, a diminutive predator scuttles over dead leaves and along narrow branches. Nearly blind, this Eciton army ant follows a trail of chemical signals laid down by her sisters. She pushes forward, relentlessly, in search of prey. Whatever she finds, she’ll bring back to the nest to share with her colony.

But then she stops. The ground has dropped away in front of her. There is no scent trail, just empty space. Other members of the colony that were following begin to climb over her. Now, instead of walking in a line, they grip hold of one another using hooks on their feet, adding body after body to build an impromptu bridge. More and more join in, until they traverse the gap. And there they remain until the entire foraging party, numbering hundreds, has crossed. Then, as suddenly as it came into being, the bridge disperses, and the ants continue on their way

NS says that this is “an impressive feat of coordination.” Given their “very limited brainpower” and despite having no “overview of the situation” they manage to do the impossible.

This would be difficult if not impossible to explain by invoking Darwinian processes that tend to be more or less myopic.

But in a created world we would expect animals to be intelligent.


Hess, Peter. 2016. Get inside the collective mind of a genius superorganism. New Scientist (7 September).