Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Excavating the Kingdom of the Ants

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This fascinating video details how a scientist learns what an ant colony looks like in the wild — it’s astonishing how big these things can get [3:16]


  1. #1 Tony Wildish
    January 26, 2009

    fascinating stuff, but I can’t help feeling sorry for the ants 🙁

  2. #2 "GrrlScientist"
    January 26, 2009

    i don’t know this for a fact, but according to the notes accompanying this video, the ant nest was abandoned.

  3. #3 Lilian Nattel
    January 26, 2009

    Amazing. I was also wondering about the ants–thanks for the info.

  4. #4 Dr. Pablito
    January 26, 2009

    “… the anonymous graduate students labor intensely for
    the good of the super organism. The students move tons of earth, shovel-full by patient shovel-full. At the end, scarcely conceivable, lies the intangible reward. This complex behavior may seem strange to us, but in the world of the graduate student, no task is too Herculean…”

  5. #5 Mike Grimm
    January 26, 2009

    A nice project. But as an entomologist, I want to know what species of ant was investigated. Genus and species would be good. Also I assume this happened in Africa somewhere – Where?

  6. #6 Julie Stahlhut
    January 27, 2009

    I believe it was Prof. Walter Tschinkel of Florida State U. who developed the techniques for making plaster and metal casts of ant nests. There are some great photos here.

  7. #7 Susan Trott
    July 17, 2009

    Fascinating. However, to destroy a living colony in the name of science seems harsh and unnecessary, especially with the tools available to us today – such as infrared and sonic mapping. Surely they could have achieved the same thing without killing millions of innocent creatures! How old was that colony? How long will it take the ants that escaped to rebuild? So sad.

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