Warfare by Megaponera analis. A day in the life of termites and ants and what it can tell us about the importance of Earth day, science and fact based education.



Warfare by Megaponera analis.
The Science of healthy living.



They came marching in at dawn, shoulder to shoulder they formed long winding columns of wordless but well-armed soldiers in gleaming dark armor that stretched as long as the eye could see. 500 men passed us by with the rising sun painting the light of this new day behind their backs. But this would not be a day of peaceful tranquility under the light of the rising sun, instead, the sun rose up from beneath the horizon as the herald of war and death in what we all knew would turn out be just another day in their relentless campaign.






4 times per day their armies marched like the well-oiled clockwork they were, through the gates they lay claim to the outside of their walled-in home and fortified trenches, they did so in what looked like endless and orderly dark lines stretching across the abandoned path that continued down the lake and the daisies meadow, 4 times per day they came for us with horns and drums playing out loud as they kept a beautiful but terrifying order, marching wordless to the beat of the drum.







And 4 times per day once the carnage had subdued, once the soundless dead had stopped moving, they would leave their own dead behind them as if they meant nothing to their former friends, now that the force of life had been snuffed out.
In their world of logical thinking and nature's relentless progress and never ending adapting evolution there was no point in spending time on mourning those who had died, you did so by continuing to live in the best way possible, that was how you best honored the dead.
And really, when you think about it, they were of course, absolutely right.











music of the day while you are reading our article
Flesh coffin by Lorna Shore












The dead do not need mourning.





While they always left their own dead behind, they always took the utmost care to bring each and every one of their own wounded soldiers back home with them, abandoning no one, bringing them home together with the many dead and captured enemies that their supply lines managed to ferry back home to their city like capital.









Once back home they would nurse and rest up their wounded soldiers, providing them the very best healthcare and nutrition, rest and sleep that would allow them to recover and heal to the point where they would once again be able to march with their comrades against us. As for our own unfortunate dead and captured, they would feast upon them, of that, I had never had any grand illusions, and so, we tell our children of how they scavenge their flesh off of their tortured and twisted bodies, strengthening their own in the pain, and death of our losses. Transforming our lost and dead into nutritious biogenetic energy.
It was for all intent and purposes a campaign of relentless resolve. Efficient and endless in its sustainable and ingenious construction.










Kill, hunt and recover, this was the rhythm that was stuck on endless repeat and it would never, ever cease to be, in some ways that certainty and the absolute way they went about executing it day in and day out was as beautiful as it was utmost terrifying. An entire society, advanced and ever evolving, primed with a focus that made each individual as strong as their collected entity, all for one, and one for all in a way that a tiny few advanced species and societies had ever come close to mastering to the same kind of level.
This cycle was the daily life and struggle in the year 4.5 billion, and this was just the way life was for us termites on planet Earth, the planet of the ants.
Endless warfare caught inside a hailstorm of nature's beauty and every day it started brand new.


















The Science
[ Megaponera analis and the science behind my semi fictional day in the life of endless warfare and life between ants and termites. ]













A recently published study in Science Advances 12 Apr 2017 gives us a fact based glimpse into the daily cycle of warfare and healthcare as the Ant species Megaponera analis carries it out, in what might be a first in the kingdom of ants.








At least this is the first time homo sapiens have managed to see this nursing behavior amongst ants were they intentionally set out to rescue and bring home every injured ant soldier with the intent of safely bringing injured ants back home in order to get them healed up and back out on the theater of war as soon as possible.
The reason why I call it a theater of war is because Termites and Ants truly are engaged in a campaign of war made up of equal measures of attrition and adaptation.
Providing the human race with a pretty fascinating window into the evolutionary arms race of two species.
Both of these species provide the other with a cunning predatory foe that is quick to adapt and evolve on their cross-species battlefield and equally capable at dishing out violence and building defenses.
And as such, it is perhaps not a surprise at all to see that M. Analis have decided that dividing attention and troops that make sure that the raiding party bring home every single one of their injured soldiers so society can heal them up is a pretty cost and time efficient way for the entire ant society to sustaining your army instead of having to endure unnecessarily heavy losses that would otherwise need to be sustained by starting over from scratch with the resource intensive task of first giving birth to a new soldier every time an ant get wounded and crippled and eventually die, not to mention divide precarious resources from society to feed and "train" him into a proper and experienced soldier.

















In studies, it has been shown that when M. Analis is allowed to carry through their task of helping to carry back home their injured friends they managed to bring down the mortality rate for injured soldiers down from 30+ percent to zero.
Which in turn also seem to translate into what comes out as a roughly 30% bigger ant colony compared to nests that did not make use of this search and rescue operation in their own army.

















And so, in my own peculiar way, I think that this is a pretty fascinating piece of the pie that is life that showcases us why science matters and why knowledge and ever-evolving fact-based education matters.
All aspects of a healthy life on planet Earth matters to us all, even the small stuff such as the life and war of ants and termites, and education and science are the tools that provide us all with the proper building blocks to understand and protect, enjoy and preserve that beautiful and ever changing treasure that is life on planet Earth.
And that is why Earth Day and Science, and sustainability matters, now more than ever before.
And perhaps, this time, ants and termites can even teach us the lesson of how proper care for every person matters.



You can find the complete study behind my fictional day in the life of ants and termites here. http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/4/e1602187
Earth Day 2017 takes place on April 22.
Make it matter, not just on April 22 but every single day going forward.
















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Writer and photography

Mike Koontz
To the daisy that is my sun and inspiration

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