US News: Cannibal ants discovered in Polish nuclear bunker - - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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US News Cannibal ants discovered in Polish nuclear bunker

12:10  04 november  2019
12:10  04 november  2019 Source:   news.sky.com

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Scientists have discovered a unique colony of wood ants trapped in an old nuclear weapons bunker in Poland which appears to have survived solely A team led by Professor Wojciech Czechowski at the Polish Academy of Science found the number of ants down in the bunker had swelled to the size

Polish Academy of Sciences zoologist Wojciech Czechowski and his colleagues discovered the nest after a group of other zoologists found that bats were Life in an abandoned nuclear weapons bunker is nightmarish, even for the humble ant . It appears that the legacy of the Soviet occupation of Poland

Scientists have discovered a unique colony of wood ants trapped in an old nuclear weapons bunker in Poland which appears to have survived solely on the corpses of its own fallen members.

a close up of a nest: The ants survived by feeding on the corpses of the fallen. Pic: Wojciech Stephan © Press Release The ants survived by feeding on the corpses of the fallen. Pic: Wojciech Stephan

The main nest was built in a vertical ventilation pipe for the bunker used to store nuclear weapons during the soviet era, but every year a large number of ants would fall down the pipe and couldn't return to the main colony.

Despite the inability of the ants who had tumbled into the bunker to reproduce, and the extremely severe conditions in the bunker - with no heat, light, or obvious sources of food - their offshoot colony thrived.

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Polish Academy of Sciences zoologist Wojciech Czechowski and his colleagues discovered the nest after a group of other zoologists found that bats were living in the bunker . Though it was technically not legal to go inside, the bat researchers figured out a way to squeeze into the small, confined space and

Ant colony raids a rival nest - Natural World - Empire of the Desert Ants - BBC Two - Продолжительность: 3:45 BBC 3 198 131 просмотр. Crawling into a "hidden" room inside a bunker .

A team led by Professor Wojciech Czechowski at the Polish Academy of Science found the number of ants down in the bunker had swelled to the size of a large colony in the open world, and had continued in their work of constructing a nest.

a close up of a cake: Pic: Wojciech Stephan © Press Release Pic: Wojciech Stephan

A "decisive contribution" from Dr Istvan Maak, who worked with Professor Czechowski at the Museum and Institute of Zoology, deduced that the colony had to survive on the corpses of its own imprisoned nestmates.

The team also experimentally installed a boardwalk to help the ants get back through the ventilation pipe that led out of the bunker to their original nest.

Although the colony was first discovered in 2013, a newly published paper established that the wood ants did indeed consume the dead bodies of their kin that began to pile up on the bunker floor.

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Scientists describe workers trapped for years in "a hostile environment in total darkness.". Annalee Newitz. Taken in 2014, this picture shows the partly blocked entrance to the Soviet-era bunker system in Poland .

Scientists describe workers trapped for years in "a hostile environment in total darkness.". Annalee Newitz. Taken in 2014, this picture shows the partly blocked entrance to the Soviet-era bunker system in Poland .

Similar behaviour does occur naturally, typically during spring when protein food is scarce, but this often takes place as a result of so-called "ant wars" when colonies fight against each other and then eat the corpses of the fallen.

"The present case adds a dimension to the great adaptive ability of ants to marginal habitats and suboptimal conditions, as the key to understanding their unquestionable eco-evolutionary success", explained the paper's authors.

When the scientists first began to release the ants, they only allowed a group of 100 to flee the bunker into the outskirts of the mother nest - and when no aggressive behaviour was observed this confirmed that they were part of the same colony.

They then installed a three-metre boardwalk between the bunker and the colony mound, and within months the bunker was almost deserted.

Although ants continue to fall down the ventilation pipe, the scientists have left the boardwalk there to allow them to move freely up and down.

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