• Wolf Gordon Clifton posted an update 4 years, 3 months ago

    I observed something like nursing behavior in ants while I was in 4th or 5th grade, after stopping two girls from stomping on an anthill during recess. While inspecting the damage, I noticed an injured ant struggling to stand up, and considered putting him out of his misery. Before I could decide, out rushed a second ant, who lifted his wounded comrade to his feet and helped him limp back into the anthill. I can’t know whether the injured ant was afterward nursed back to health or simply eaten by his companions (as many people I’ve told the story have suggested), but the scientific discovery of ant nursing behavior supports my initial impression that the insects had eachother’s back.

    Also, I wouldn’t assume, as the researcher does, that ant behavior occurs “without any need of cognition or knowledge of what you are doing.” According to traditional “hive mind” models, insect societies can process knowledge and make complex decisions collectively, even if their individual members are no more intelligent than single neurons in a human brain. Research on bees, meanwhile, shows that at least one group of insects DOES possess individual cognitive abilities including pattern recognition, symbolic communication, and navigation via landmarks.