Study Shows Ants Can Smell Their Fallen Comrades

May 9, 2009

California (ChattahBox) – Researchers at the University of California have found that ants are able to smell the deaths of their fellows.

The sight of ants carrying away their dead is not uncommon, and smell has long since been contributed to that phenomenon. But scientists are now saying it is an action taken by colonies to prevent infection spread by the carcass, and that the current theories on how it is they smell their comrades is wrong.

New evidence suggests that there are two separate chemicals in all ants, one that signals life, and one that signals death. When an ant dies, that chemical that is released during their life dissipates, leaving only the death chemical behind in it’s place.

“It’s because the dead ant no longer smells like a living ant that it gets carried to the graveyard, not because its body releases new, unique chemicals after death,” Dong-Hwan Choe, a researcher on the study explained.

The study has been released online, in an edition of National Academy of Sciences.


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