PALEONTOLOGISTS and other scientists tell us that the Earth was created about four billion years ago, they also say arthropods where one of the first creatures to inhabit this planet which at that time was going through uncountable climate changes.
This is a phylum which is mainly made by invertebrate animals whose their bodies are covered by hard shell called exoskeleton which is found mainly in the class of insects a group which contain more than 14 thousand species of ants whose ancestors evolved from wasps about 130 million years ago when the first flower blossom took place on earth.
With a body measuring between 0.75 and 52 millimeters, ants are well known for their ability of working together but agility, strength and endurance is what draws attention from different people with different knowledge, to get a clear picture look at this, made by a network of about 40,000 muscles and 640 veins, a trunk of an elephant is capable to lift up more than 250 kilograms which is less than 32 times to a total weight of 8,000 kilograms of a full grown African elephant which is nothing when you compare and contrast the two creatures.
Standing between 2.7 and 3.7 meters, a full grown male elephant may weigh about 8,000 kilograms or 8 tons which is equivalent to a very big colony of ants made by 8,000,000,000 individuals which are capable to stand and fight against any defense force battalion in the world comprising of a minimum of 78 healthier soldiers each weighing an average of 90 kilograms.
Ants are known to use different parts of their bodies effectively but compound eyes with multiple lenses enable them to see clearly small particles with different colours including red, yellow, green and blue, on the other hands scientists say an elephant’s eyes are very small in relation to its head not only that the eye contains very few photoreceptors and they cannot see very well further than 30 meters. Scientists say among ants complete information about an image is obtained when these insects combine data from their eyes and chemical contents collected by antennae which sense smell, measure weight and temperature, detect direction of wind and taste different source of food.
Unlike an elephant and some insects such as butterflies, wasps and honeybees, by putting into practice the information which is collected by antennae and eyes, ants are able to work day and night. As if that is not enough, whoever looks at an ants will be shocked when an ants pass with a heavy load on their mouth, scientists say these insects are able to lift up and move a cargo which weigh five hundred times than their own weight.
Scientists say these insects are equipped with flexible and powerful mandibles which work perfectly like trunk for an elephant, this is possible because the mouth of an ant is capable to apply a bite with a pressure measuring more than 5,000 times than its own weight, this is only possible among ants whereby some species are capable of carrying loads which weighs between 350 and 1,000 times of their own body weight.
Zoologists say a trunk works as a hand for an elephant but morphologically ants are created to use their powerful neck which has soft cartilage that connects it with the exoskeleton or hard shell which cover their body and use a special mechanism through small hair and pores to absorb pressure created by a heavy load on its mouth, this is done when an ant puts into consideration the size of its head, the length and width of its neck and the abdomen against the weight of a load which it intends to take.
From the time of creation, ants were structured to carry heavy loads because the internal part of their body consist of muscles which work only to support lifting up of different loads unlike mammalians which their bodies depend on muscles to hold and carry it from one point to another.
These are one of many features which enable some species to carry a load that weight between 300 and 1,000 times than their own body not only that, there are different aspects which contribute this ability but size of the muscles, body weight, age and health of an individual is very important.
In order to lift different loads, ants use their forefront part which is designed to utilize energy that is stored into muscles to powers their mandibles, necks and three pairs of legs located in the middle part where most body activities are processed, one may wonder how it is possible for an aºnt to climb on a vertical surface with a heavy load on its mouth, scientists say these insects are equipped with a mechanism which use hocked claws to enable them to move smoothly through different terrains.
Their legs are powered by muscles which store and use a bigger position of energy from a light body that is why ants are able to move very fast compared to mammals such as elephants which are made on bigger bodies which from some positions and time become too heavy for themselves.
At the same time history tells us that about ten thousand years ago human started farming activities, that happened after migrating from African to other continents where weather and higher demand for food forced them to adapt changes or perish, scientist say ants started farming about fifty million years ago when they adapted domestication of fungi which are raised for food.
Most ants are predators which kill and eat other insects, some are scavengers which live by eating dead bodies of other creatures but leaf cutters are farmers who are found in a group of ants made up with more than 200 species and found in all parts of the world except those which are covered by ice throughout the year.
Most ants are rainforest dwellers which live in a colony consisting of not less than eight million insects working tirelessly to collect leaves from a careful selected specie of vegetation then taken in a special area located inside the nestle which is treated as a garden where division of labor is applied according sex and body size.
These are fungus garden where largest workers cut leaves and bring them from the outside and give them to medium size workers who chew the leave and made ready for fermentation by adding special chemical from their bodies which allow the growth of micro bacteria who breakdown the leaves as the workers continue with intensive job of grooming by constantly supplying it with fresh cuts, pruning by removing unwanted parts and weeding out infected parts of their crops.
Leaf cutter ants exclusively make combination of leaf materials, fecal matter and their saliva which is the put at the disposal of bacteria which use it to the grow special food for the ants, scientists say this is an obligate relation between the two creatures because without the ants support the bacteria will die because from millions of years ago they have lost ability to live outside the leaf cutters nestles but on the other side these species of ant will go into extinction when its larvae misses its prime food.
According to many scientific literatures ants do a lots of unbelievable things including attending special classes in an open area of Savannah where a senior worker act as a teacher for un experienced young workers who takes them through special procedures where they learn different skills of life including walking to a food source and defending what you have got.
These techniques give ants greater abilities against most of their rivals including humans who fear and hate them but scientists say ants play very important role in ecological conservation wherever they are dwelling weather its in the tropical rainforest of Amani forest in Tanga, Jozani forest reserve in Zanzibar or savannah grasslands of Swagaswaga game reserve in central Tanzania.
As they dig tunnels on the ground ants bring on the surface fertile soil materials which plant roots are not able to obtain them because most these important ingredients are located in a zone called subsoil that is why cultivation of vegetables around mount Meru in Arusha is easy and plantation of banana in area around mount Kilimanjaro is good because every ants take to the ground different decaying plant materials and animal wastes which enrich the soil.
Some ants have powerful jaws which they use to dig tunnels on rocks which then are used by delicate plant roots to penetrate and reach down to fertile soil but scientists say meat eating ants are cleaners of the savannah where dead bodies of insects, reptiles, birds and mammals are left out after a death of a hyena or other scavenger.
Scientists say from about 100 million years ago some species of ants have developed habit of enslaving other species of ants, these are slave making ants who in a process called slave riding attack colonies of other species and capture prisoners of war and force them to work for the most powerful colony in a parasitic way.
Its believed that there more than 14 thousand species of ants and some of them are endemic to Tanzania where a specie called Dorylus is always helping the pastoralists societies of East Africa by sending an army consisting of more than eight million ants to attack and kill harmful insects found in animal’s waste.