Saturday, January 14, 2006

Ants Can Teach Each Other

British researchers said on Wednesday they had uncovered the first proof of teaching in non-human animals -- ants showing each other the way to food.

The ants studied over two years by scientists from Bristol University used a technique known as tandem running -- one ant led another ant from the nest to a food source.

It was a genuine case of teaching as ant leaders observed by Professor Nigel Franks and Tom Richardson slowed down if the follower got too far behind. If the gap got smaller, they then speeded up.

Tandem leaders also paid a penalty, because they would have reached the food four times faster if they had gone alone. But teaching had its advantages -- the follower ant then learnt much more quickly where the food source was.


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