This ant can shrink its brain and grow its ovaries to save the colony

The Harpegnathos jumper, also called indian jumping ant, is a kind of ant found in this vast country. Now new research has found that they can experience incredibly dramatic changes in their physique, previously unknown in insects: they can shrink their brain and grow their ovaries in order to save the colony in the event that it dies.

And it is that, for most ant colonies, if the queen, which is the one that lays all the eggs, dies, the colony also usually dies with her, because the rest of ants are sterile. However, for this species of ants, it is well worth losing a little of their brain for the sake of putting on the crown, especially since the brain can grow back later. This is quite an amazing turn in the lives of these strange forest-dwelling creatures.

Ritual combat

Unlike other species of ants, Indian jumping ants do not die with their queens. Y how the new matriarch is chosen? In single antenna combat, who will decide who will be the next to wear the crown. The victorious female will expand her ovaries and shrink her brain to three-quarters of its original size. Of course, if the “pseudo-queen” status of a worker is revoked in some way, their bodies can return to their original state, exposes the study that has been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

“They have this ability to completely transform into adulthood, and that makes them interesting to try to understand.”says Clint Penick of Kennesaw State University and leader of the work.