Natures Wonders: travelling ants can't be fooled (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Friday, November 24, 2017, 00:46 (267 days ago) @ David Turell

The use vision and smell and can't be fooled:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171122124027.htm

"Cataglyphis fortis desert ants can learn visual or olfactory cues to pinpoint their nest, but only if these cues are unique to specify the nest entrance. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, discovered that the insects ignore visual landmarks or odors as nest-defining cues, if these occur not only near the nest but also along the route. Hence, ants are able to evaluate the informative value of such cues and are not fooled by ubiquitous unreliable cues.

"Homing desert ants are able to distinguish unambiguous from ambiguous landmarks and include this information in their behavioral responses when returning to their nest. This ability became obvious in behavioral experiments in Tunisia. "The ants ignored visual or olfactory cues that were not reliable. Unreliable nest cues are those that are not only found at the nest entrance, but are ubiquitous along the route. The ability to assess the informational value of visual landmarks or odor trails as relevant or irrelevant for the nest search is another example of the amazing cognitive performance of the tiny ant brain," says Roman Huber, the first author of the study.

***

"Homing desert ants are able to distinguish unambiguous from ambiguous landmarks and include this information in their behavioral responses when returning to their nest. This ability became obvious in behavioral experiments in Tunisia. "The ants ignored visual or olfactory cues that were not reliable. Unreliable nest cues are those that are not only found at the nest entrance, but are ubiquitous along the route. The ability to assess the informational value of visual landmarks or odor trails as relevant or irrelevant for the nest search is another example of the amazing cognitive performance of the tiny ant brain," says Roman Huber, the first author of the study.

***

"If one part of the landmark was unambiguous and only found near the nest, whereas the other was ubiquitous and found repeatedly along the route, the ants only used the unambiguous part, for example the odor, as reliable information and navigated towards this cue on their way back to the nest. They did not pay any attention to the several other black cards (the ambiguous part of the nest cue) they encountered in the channel," Roman Huber summarizes."

Comment: The ant brain may be tiny but it obviously has very complex neurologic networks to allow this kind of discerning ability. The point is size is only one discerning characteristic in judging the ability of a brain to function in a complex way. Highly sophisticated neural networks undoubtedly play a larger role. This is relevant in discussing brain size and function in any organisms.


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