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vanisher



alnilam posted:

*licking seeds in my kitchen, looking up at the person who just walked in with seeds all in my mouth* wha? i'ng ngaking gread!

Ant: ah, a finely aged seed bread. What is this, the october selection? Magnicificent

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Goons Are Great

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alnilam posted:

*licking seeds in my kitchen, looking up at the person who just walked in with seeds all in my mouth* wha? i'ng ngaking gread!


Manifisto




alnilam posted:

*licking seeds in my kitchen, looking up at the person who just walked in with seeds all in my mouth* wha? i'ng ngaking gread!


thanks to kaiser schnitzel for the sig

Stoner Sloth


alnilam posted:

that owns

Am interested in also hearing about all of the other ant-ventions too like farming, herding and slavery when OP has time to tell us more

Also wondering about that antibiotic saliva that was mentioned... is there much research into whether the compounds from it could be used in human medicine?

Oh and now that my dumb stoner rear end has figured out how to rate threads (pretty drat obvious in hindsight) :5:



sigs by the awesome Manifisto, Vanisher, City of Glompton, and Pot Smoke Phoenix - ty friends!

Pomp

Pomp has also
an anime avatar


ant too meet you

Goons Are Great

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Okay so, since I have some time at my hands right now and also a toast with melted cheese, as promised here comes the genetic background post. This may be the most boring one, but as it's the basis of all life we know (so far), it might help to understand the magical magic that is an ant crew.

First off you should ask yourself: Why the actual and probably chill gently caress would any animal ever end up building a society of their own? Obviously, this goes without question for us humans as well and the answer to this is also quite obvious: Cooperation wins the game of evolution quite often.
Our primate ancestors figured that taking care of your kids raises the odds of them surviving, which means an advantage, which means this is good and will stick during evolution. At the same time, different families started to not kill, but tolerate each other, until they also figured that helping each other might be even better. It ensures that your DNA gets spread widely and carried on to the next generation - and if that also helps the other family, that's no harm for you, so let's be friends.

So far, so good. That's just text book evolution. However, now imagine that those families would only have one mom that gets every children and everyone else is not allowed, capable or strictly blocked having children of their own. This would mean a reduction of possible genes to be passed onto the next generation and also limit the number of babies produced massively. Based on simple evolution, this is simply impossible. The number of babies made is so small that this behavior could never reproduce itself - another generation would, by accident, not do this, have a ton of more kids (even if most of them die, the sheer numbers may compensate losses) and thus, the having a lot of kids part will be passed on, no matter what.

This is a problem that Darwin himself discovered and he researched eusocial animals, especially bees and ants intensively, but could not find a solution of why having one or only a few queens that lay eggs and 99% of the species not doing that. The answer to this is genetics, specifically a word called Haplodiploidy.
It's a genetic system that specifically sets rules on what gender exist and why it does that. For humans, this is well-known: Our genes are made of two sets of 23, so in total 46 chromosomes, for females all of those are shaped like an X, for males one of them is a Y.

For ants, this does not happen. They do not have sex chromosomes determining their gender based on genetics, instead they are capable of producing healthy and normal ants with only one set of chromosomes, which is called haploid. Those ants do exclusively carry the genes of their mother and have no father at all. This happens when an egg is not fertilized by male sperm inside the queen's body, but instead it's set on wild drugs that start the egg development normally, despite it being not fertilized. This magical process is called Parthogenesis.
Those haploid ants are male. Always and without any exception, they never can be female whatsoever, as there is no logical way to ever compensate the lack of one parent. At the same time, the normal, fertilized eggs, will always end up female.

This however also means a very weird fact to come into play: A normal, female worker ant owns 50% of her mother's genes and 50% of her father's genes. However, since her mother, the queen, only mated with a male ant (that has to be haploid), only the mother's genes can be recombined for a new set of genes to appear. This means that one worker ant shares 75% of genes with another worker ant of the same mother.
This means that worker ants are closer related to their sisters than they are to their own mother.
If those worker ants would now go out and find a male themselves, breed and make kids, those kids would, again, only share 50% of her own genes. This means genetically, it's a safer bet for ants to stay with their sisters and keep them alive than breeding themselves. Crazy, right?

This is, simplified, the cause of why it was an advantage to stay together, build a small family based society at first and, over millions of years of evolution, create insect colonies. Of course, there are a lot more aspects involved here, but this is the very root of Darwin's problem and, for me, this was one of the most mind blowing discoveries ever!

Goons Are Great fucked around with this message at 02:41 on Apr 6, 2019


xcheopis



I love all the knowledge dropping! I'm also going to suggest a slight change to the chromosome info:

quote:

for women all of those are shaped like an X, for men one of them is a Y. 
This is one of the rare times I will suggest that using 'female' and 'male' are more appropriate, given what we know about different genders in humans.
Sorry if I come across as lecturing or pedantic; I really do love these posts!

Goons Are Great

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Oh you're right! It's even the biological term, so quite more correct. Fixed that!


Kief Richards

PHANTOM QUEEN


Haplodiploidy only occurs super rarely in mammals and usually ends badly with even rarer exception to that rule so I'm pretty sure we're all just inferior to ants now.



xcheopis



Goons Are Great posted:

Oh you're right! It's even the biological term, so quite more correct. Fixed that!

Goons Are Great

Please drink responsibly


Sorry for those that don't like the details, I don't really want to turn this thread into a full science-only thing, so next up there will be more pictures and name suggestions for the ant crew!

However, a quick super special addendum for the genes post, because it was pointed out to me that some stuff I said is still scientifically controversial (which I knew, but I didn't know to what extend) and even though this isn't a science forum, I want to be somewhat correct! Also note that I'm not a biologist myself, actually I'm a philosopher and work and research for a university in that field, but I work a lot with actual biologists and neurobiologists (hence why I even bothered to get this much information about my pets). If anyone wants to point out stuff that I may have gotten wrong, feel free! You probably know a lot more than me.

Haplodiploidy is without a doubt what ant genders and their gene combinations come from, that is proven endless amounts of times. However, it's not a guarantee that eusocial behavior actually happens because of it: In contrast, there are haplodiploid species that have the same genetic setup and no colonies whatsoever (around 95% of all bee species for example are exclusively solitary species or parasites, only honey bees form hives), on the other hand there are eusocial animals that do specifically not have a haplodiploid setup, the most famous ones are Termites.
Termites, who are not Hymenoptera but actually roaches and have an entirely different anatomy and behavior, are one of the most successful animal family in world history, they make up a brutal percentage of individual animals living in tropical forests and cover a majority of the ground with trillions of workers - yet, they are no haplodiploid at all. In fact, they have a queen and also a king that continuously sleep with each other and the workers are both female and male with no influence whether they become workers, soldiers, care for brood, scouts etc. Biological gender is simply less of a thing for them.

Obviously, this is only one of many factors that this kind of cooperation makes possible. As far as I heard - and I might be wrong here - it's a setup that improves the likelihood of eusociality happen, but it's not the vital center of it. In fact, ants for example even undermine their own relationship to each other to a certain degree: The queen ant does not actually want her babies to be too close to each other. If every worker would be at a 75% same to each other worker, the genetic drift would cause them to take better care of their siblings than the queen, simply since they share more genes with them as they do with their mommy.
This, however, is not good for the queen. That's why she mates with a looooot of drones and collects tons of sperm before she starts the nest, so that she can keep them further apart by having a few worker ants being made from dad A, also dad B, also dad C. This ensures that the queen stays the center of the colony and the workers don't start working only for each other.

Also, one has to understand the extend how ants work for their own colony: Everything, actually. Their entire life is centered around the colony, nothing else matters for them as much as that. They are willing to engage in catastrophic ant wars with the same ant species than themselves and lose 90% of their population due to it to ensure their own genes are spread to the next generation. They will attack invaders, no matter the size, no matter the kind, they will be mutilated, hurt and killed for their colony, as long as they see a tiny, tiny chance that what they do helps the colony in any tiny kind of way.
This is not because the queen forces them to do so or enslaves them via a hive mind la Zergs in Starcraft or something, this is because each and every single worker ant thinks this way. Every single ant has its own mind and every single ant wants nothing but the success of the colony, as it's directly tied to their own survival. They do not build a nest in a certain fashion because the queen tells them to, but one ant thinks "Hey, let's do this, can someone help me?" another ant comes by and might think "Okay, yeah, let's do this." and they work together. There are no fights ever, but there are different ideas of what to do, resulting in one ant doing A, another ant reversing it and doing B. This can go on for a while until one of them shares the point of view of another ant.
The queen however is not handing out orders at all actually, at least not beyond stuff like "Yo guys, I just made two eggs, could someone take care of them, I'm busy cleaning my butt" and there are situations in which the workers force the queen to move or do stuff that she herself does not want, as the queen is way more focused on herself than the workers are on their own body. This may include hurting the queen if necessary or forcing her to lay eggs or take away her eggs, if seen necessary for the success of the colony. Other ants will die for the queen not because she is the ruler, but because she is the future of the colony and her beating heart. They feed, clean and do everything for her because it's what the colony needs, not because the queen wants it.

Understanding this setup, beyond the concept of the genetic basis is key to understanding the behavior of ants, as it's not just their genetic setup causing this, but a plethora of various super complex factors, that most of which I myself do not know and also are still part of active research in Myrmecology, but I wanted to at least come close to explaining it!

I hope I didn't lose all of you brave readers by my text walls in byob, the chill forum.


alnilam

Postin in the springtime



*learning about ants*

Goons Are Great

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As an alternative to , take this nice ant doing acrobatics!


Nosfereefer


please make more effortposts! this stuff is fascinating

Nosfereefer


*at the store checkout*
me: *grins* what is this, a bread for ants?
*cashier sighs as she scans my organically sourced ant bread*

Luvcow


Nosfereefer posted:

please make more effortposts! this stuff is fascinating



thanks to city of glompton for this sig

thanks to vanisher for this sig

Stoner Sloth


Goons Are Great posted:

As an alternative to , take this nice ant doing acrobatics!



Awesome post and that ant is a star and I love her

Sounds like ants are a land of contrasts - very interesting about the common misconception about hive minds, seems more like a slowly emerging concensus than the top down rule often depicted in popular fiction. Oh and also about termites. I remember the big magnetic mound building ones up in the Northern Territory supposedly eat more grass than all the other animals (including cattle and roos) combined by an order of magnitude!

I think you're doing great at providing a good overview of all this and am learning quite a bit; and all science is controversial to a greater or lesser extent (especially evolutionary biology lol but at least it's always fascinating).




Oh and a couple more questions, do you have one or more favourite species of ant(s) that you'd like to tell us about?

And how are our particularly favourite little colony of ant frens doing?



sigs by the awesome Manifisto, Vanisher, City of Glompton, and Pot Smoke Phoenix - ty friends!

Goons Are Great

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Tried to get a picture of them digging in nest #2, but the ladies are shy.
It looks good though! Interestingly, they seem more the day person than night owls, which is rather unusual, but has the perk that I can see them in broad daylight digging a lot. They are continuously digging currently and seem to have work shifts established. One ant works on the new nest, the other one stays inside taking care of the queen and hopefully brood.

If you wondered in my pictures why there is red stuff everywhere, that is because ants, like most insects, are unable to see long wavelengths in light, as their eyes, oculus compositus for nerds, can't capture it. This means they are unable to see the color red and light filtered through red glass appears extremely gray and almost dark to them. This way I can act like there are underground even if they construct their nest on the glass, which I want to encourage them to do, so I can take a look inside.
When I lifted the red stuff up for a moment and opened the queen to daylight, she immediately got nervous and moved, which is a healthy sign that she has something to protect - so I hope it's tons of eggs!!

In terms of favorite species - really hard to tell. All of them are so special and do special things. I chose the black garden ant for my colony because they are easy to keep, native to Europe and used to the temperatures, are very curious and active and grow moderately.

Next up I'll do another, hopefully less science-y but more fun effort post on ants herding cattle in a bit - because that's what my girls in the genus Lasius are very specialized in and I really hope I may be able to see it in person at some point.


alnilam

Postin in the springtime



If you mean aphid farming I've seen that in my own backyard, it owns except for that aphids fukken SUK in the garden get off my brassicæ dambit

Luvcow


Goons Are Great posted:

Next up I'll do another, hopefully less science-y but more fun effort post on ants herding cattle in a bit - because that's what my girls in the genus Lasius are very specialized in and I really hope I may be able to see it in person at some point.

op can you put tiny cowboy hats on any aphid farming ant pics you post? it would really help with my immersion, tia.



thanks to city of glompton for this sig

thanks to vanisher for this sig

Goons Are Great

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alnilam posted:

If you mean aphid farming I've seen that in my own backyard, it owns except for that aphids fukken SUK in the garden get off my brassicæ dambit

I do indeed! It's not the only kind of cattle ants sometimes have, but it's a common one. Feel free to post pictures if you ever happen to have a camera around when seeing, live footage is always better!

Also don't forget to add the hat, because I def will add it to everything


Goons Are Great

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Now look at this unedited beauty of an ant taking care of their cattle:



So this is no joke, this completely natural photo of an ant is actually a thing that's called Trophobiosis. Those ants are cowboys, as you may have seen already, they go out and look out for aphids. Those little guys as you surely have already seen stick to plants and suck out its juice.
However in the process of sucking on the juice and digesting it, they really have to poop. Because of the nature of this (the juice is under some pressure and the aphids are basically just sticking their mouths into it to drink, they don't actually suck on it) they can't leave the place and thus, they just poop where they are right now.

The poop is called honeydew, it is very sweet, available practically everywhere (since aphids are everywhere) and the ants know that. Especially European species that sometimes have a tough time finding accessible juices around the nature mastered this kind of hunt for honeydew. They actually go out and roam for aphids, suck up the poop on the aphid's butts and then they give them a massage with their antenna.

You can see this here happening here:


The ants literally touch the work butts of those aphids and this motivates them to poop more, so the ant can eat more. Since this is very effective, the ants actually thought, hey, let's do it the byob style and be chill at work. This led to them cutting away the plants the aphids sit on and bring them to their nest. There they take the aphids and carry them to other plants more nearby, while protecting them from predators. If the aphids emptied out a plant, they are simply relocated to another by the ants. They also actively cut up more plants and re-plant them nearby the nest, so they can defend them easily, like this:



And that, my yobbers, is how ants have actual cattle. There are more kinds of cattle, like small bugs that live in their nest and eat the stuff the ants can't digest and then eat those bug's poop, but the aphids are more vital for many species and a main source of food for many, many ant species around the earth.


Luvcow


Goons Are Great posted:

Now look at this unedited beauty of an ant taking care of their cattle:







Kief Richards

PHANTOM QUEEN


Lasinus are the anarchocommunist cowboys of the ant world and I'm glad of it.



Barking Gecko

Mahoro says, "Naughty things are bad."

Stoner Sloth


Glad to hear that it sounds like the colony is doing well, here's hoping lots of babies are one the way!

Awesome pics and posts about ant cowgirls. The hats definitely add to their majesty

Also I've read that if you take like a hair or eyelash or something similarly fine and are careful you can massage the aphids and pretend to be an ant and they will pop out some honeydew for you - it's apparently safe to eat if you're not squeamish too, mostly sugar that the aphids have too much of. Think I'll stick to mojitos and G&Ts though personally



sigs by the awesome Manifisto, Vanisher, City of Glompton, and Pot Smoke Phoenix - ty friends!

Kief Richards

PHANTOM QUEEN


Stoner Sloth posted:

Glad to hear that it sounds like the colony is doing well, here's hoping lots of babies are one the way!

Awesome pics and posts about ant cowgirls. The hats definitely add to their majesty

Also I've read that if you take like a hair or eyelash or something similarly fine and are careful you can massage the aphids and pretend to be an ant and they will pop out some honeydew for you - it's apparently safe to eat if you're not squeamish too, mostly sugar that the aphids have too much of. Think I'll stick to mojitos and G&Ts though personally

Don't slap it until you attempt it



Stoner Sloth


hamjobs posted:

Don't slap it until you attempt it

Fair point, if I find some aphids around the place I'l give it a try for science!



sigs by the awesome Manifisto, Vanisher, City of Glompton, and Pot Smoke Phoenix - ty friends!

Kief Richards

PHANTOM QUEEN


Stoner Sloth posted:

Fair point, if I find some aphids around the place I'l give it a try for science!

Same, I'm on a shake shack and we'd fueled night Safari looking for cool ants and aphids



Stoner Sloth


hamjobs posted:

Same, I'm on a shake shack and we'd fueled night Safari looking for cool ants and aphids

Awesome! Just went outside for a smoke and had like six Australian magpies and a couple of lovely wood ducks wandering around in the back yard and squaring off with each other occasionally. The female duck of the pair is hilarious she has like zero fear - came up and started to nibble my toe to try to convince me to give her foods.



sigs by the awesome Manifisto, Vanisher, City of Glompton, and Pot Smoke Phoenix - ty friends!

Kief Richards

PHANTOM QUEEN


Stoner Sloth posted:

Awesome! Just went outside for a smoke and had like six Australian magpies and a couple of lovely wood ducks wandering around in the back yard and squaring off with each other occasionally. The female duck of the pair is hilarious she has like zero fear - came up and started to nibble my toe to try to convince me to give her foods.

Omg ducks are adorable and so are aus magpies

Big fan of corvids here, we should make a corvidae effortlpost when I'm sober enough to type which should be

*Looks at watch*

In two to six years



Kief Richards

PHANTOM QUEEN


Have you named your ducks

You should name the boy Goons are Great and the girl should be named Tuna



Stoner Sloth


Feeling a bit that way myself - my head already is feeling like it's full of marshmellow, it's not even noon and just got an awesome delivery of new gins that I'm trying to hold off till later on starting to drink. One of them is a local gin that just recently won an award in London as best dry gin in the world so keen to give that a try.

But yeah, corvids are awesome - scarily smart critters... I think if they were our size and/or had hands we'd be in a lot of trouble.

And those duck names are good duck names - hadn't named them yet cause they're allegedly wild though these days they seem to not ever leave much and seem to very much want me to feed them (don't usually but there's plenty of grubs and food for them outside anyways). We've recently got a pond up and running too so they're pretty happy about that, most mornings they're out there splashing around and having a great old time



sigs by the awesome Manifisto, Vanisher, City of Glompton, and Pot Smoke Phoenix - ty friends!

Kief Richards

PHANTOM QUEEN


ANT CREW ALERT

I found some frickin aphids and ants and they really do eat rear end!!!!



Kief Richards

PHANTOM QUEEN


Stoner Sloth posted:

Feeling a bit that way myself - my head already is feeling like it's full of marshmellow, it's not even noon and just got an awesome delivery of new gins that I'm trying to hold off till later on starting to drink. One of them is a local gin that just recently won an award in London as best dry gin in the world so keen to give that a try.

But yeah, corvids are awesome - scarily smart critters... I think if they were our size and/or had hands we'd be in a lot of trouble.

And those duck names are good duck names - hadn't named them yet cause they're allegedly wild though these days they seem to not ever leave much and seem to very much want me to feed them (don't usually but there's plenty of grubs and food for them outside anyways). We've recently got a pond up and running too so they're pretty happy about that, most mornings they're out there splashing around and having a great old time

We need a drink chat thread too because gins are extremely delicious and I've been dry for years but considering recreational alcoholism

We have relatively tame crows that bring me pebbles in exchange for peanuts and bits of fruit and grains; I'm looking forward to the berries coming on so we can have Crow Parties.



Stoner Sloth


hamjobs posted:

We need a drink chat thread too because gins are extremely delicious and I've been dry for years but considering recreational alcoholism

We have relatively tame crows that bring me pebbles in exchange for peanuts and bits of fruit and grains; I'm looking forward to the berries coming on so we can have Crow Parties.

Awesome - some of the magpies will offer you worms occasionally if you've fed them before, and like to sit and watch us from the clothes line. I don't like to give them too much foods cause it can crowd out their normal behaviour plus I've read with magpies that meat is somethign they should only have occasionally, give them too much and the babies don't get enough nutrition. But giving them occasional snacks is okay and they remember you plus stops you getting swooped when they're nesting

And hell yeah with a drink thread, that would be cool - I'm really spoiled at the moment cause there are so many really good little local distilleries here now that are producing awesome stuff that isn't too expensive. That and the local independent supermarket is cool and has really interesting stuff to add to it plus even has a gin bar that serves the good local stuff as well as good food - it's cool and have got to be friends with the guy who runs it so picked up some advice on what is good and he also sells me these dehydrated slices of blood orange that he makes for the bar for what it costs him to make them that goes awesomely in G&Ts - gives a nice flavour and has awesome crunchy texture.



sigs by the awesome Manifisto, Vanisher, City of Glompton, and Pot Smoke Phoenix - ty friends!

Resting Lich Face

There's a drinking megathread in the BYOB subforum but it doesn't seem like anyone posts there.

Well it seems it got a couple posts today... but the previous ones were 3-16... and any alcoholism megathread that doesn't have posts on St. Paddy's is a dead fuckin alcoholism thread.

Resting Lich Face fucked around with this message at 04:59 on Apr 7, 2019

Goons Are Great

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Bring it back to life and let's all drink!


Goons Are Great

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After we had cowboy ants, let's do a quick post about farmer ants! Those are pretty much the most famous ants by far, you most likely already heard about it and especially our US friends here have surely met them a lot, since they are very common there and in many hotter parts of the world, even though they don't appear naturally in Europe at all: Leafcutter Ants, or actually the two genera Atta and Acromyrmex.
As the name Acromyrmex already obviously suggests, those ladies cut away grass and leafs. If you ever see ants carrying leafs around, those are the guys. As they are farmers, they always wear sun protection during work:


However, ants cannot eat leafs or any plant directly. Instead they do some major magic with it, similar to ant bread: They carry it back to their usually huge nests and carry it underground. There they cut it down into small pieces and place them carefully into farm chambers. In those farm chambers there the farming part happens:


The leafs are infected with a special fungus that only exists in those ant nests and the fungus happily growth massively, covering the entire chamber with itself. Since it is very vulnerable, the ants remove any other animals, fungi or plants and spread the entire chamber with a special liquid that is extremely toxic to almost any kind of life, except this special fungus. Also, as recent science has shown, apparently the entire body of those ants is covered with special bacteria that hinder the growth of other mushrooms while at the same time fertilize the one they want to keep.
They carefully cut away parts of it without hurting it too much and eat it. Even the many queens those colonies can have sometimes feels like getting a direct bite of it, of course with her trusty soldiers protecting her:


Since the fungus creates a ton of CO2 and other potentially toxic gases, they even invented a ventilation system that sucks out air from above and blows out the bad gases into the atmosphere.
I hope you think about this, when you see an ant road full of green leafs cut away by those hard working little guys!!


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Stoner Sloth posted:

Also I've read that if you take like a hair or eyelash or something similarly fine and are careful you can massage the aphids and pretend to be an ant and they will pop out some honeydew for you - it's apparently safe to eat if you're not squeamish too, mostly sugar that the aphids have too much of. Think I'll stick to mojitos and G&Ts though personally

Also also, most likely everyone here has at some point eaten aphid poop, because bees love to collect it, too. They don't herd them like ants to, but also figured that rubbing their butts leads to the aphids to poop more juice out and they do this a lot. The bees then suck it up as well, bring it back home and you guessed it: They make honey out of it. This honey is a lot darker than regular flower honey, tastes bit more intensively and stays liquid a very very long time. We call this Forest or Wild Honey. If you ever bought honey with those terms printed on them, yep, you ate aphid poop. Actually you ate aphid poop that was eaten by a bee, pooped out by a bee, eaten again by another bee and then puked out by that bee, before being stored in a honey chamber.


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