Selective tool use in ants

10 Jan

Very interesting post from Jerry Coyne’s site. Enjoy!

Why Evolution Is True

You’re probably aware that tool use, once considered a uniquely human phenomenon, has now been documented widely in primates and birds. You may not know, though, that it’s also been seen in some insects, as in wasps that use pebbles to close off their burrows after laying eggs. Ants, too, have been seen to use debris from the environment to transport liquid food back to the nest; the ants that do this have a non-expandable crop, so they can’t simply suck up the stuff and then regurgitate it to their nestmates.

Now, in a new paper in Animal Behaviour by István Maák and his colleagues (link and free download below), we find that two species of the funnel ant Aphaenogaster not only use tools to suck up liquid food, but are selective in which tools they use. The authors collected colonies of A. senilis and A. subterranea, and presented…

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