Planet Ant: Life Inside the Colony

2013, Nature  -   18 Comments

Entomologist Dr George McGavin and leafcutter expert Prof Adam Hart will embark on an ambitious project, something that's never been tried before. They will show us a hidden world. It has taken six months from planning to the final project. They've built a new home for one million of nature's most extraordinary creatures - ants. They fascinate us, they build complex, organized societies and we've always drawn parallels between their world and ours.

So what can we learn from ants? To find out scientists brought a working colony of leafcutter ants from the tropics of Central America to Glasgow. They've recreated their nest so they can see inside and for one month they're going to capture every aspect of their lives. They'll track them; they'll listen to them and get right up close to them. They'll also go beyond their own ant metropolis to meet some of the most impressive ants on the planet and discover the surprising ways in which ants are helping us solve global problems. What ants can achieve is astonishing. This project will show their world as has never been seen before and reveal what they can teach us about ourselves.

Glasgow is not the natural home for leafcutter ants, but over four weeks the science center there will play host to this ambitious project. The goal is to unlock the secrets of the ant colony. In the wild the leafcutters dig huge underground nests. Scientists used the ants' natural design to inspire their own creation. But the leafcutters need more than just a nest, they also need food. Scientists built them a whole environment where they'll be able to search or forage for food as they would do in the wild. They will let the ants loose over this whole new world they've built for them, and over the next month they're going to be really interested to see how they take control of it and how the colony develops.

Ratings: 8.95/10from 199 users.

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18 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Karin

    Sad to see that humans felt they had the right to destroy a natural working colony so that they could do a science experiment. Did they return all those ants to their natural habitat?All of this for what?? So that humans could satisfy their curiosity? Leave nature alone and observe without destroying and disturbing.

    1. Jack

      If you watch they specify that the farmer was going to destroy it anyway because it was an agricultural pest, so in essence they "saved" it

  2. xPhoenixAshx

    Honestly. I watches this video a year ago. I forgot about it, but it's what originally sparked my interest in ants. I am applying with the USDA to be the first ant farmer in Alabama Tuesday. I think this is the first time I've ever rated a video 10/10 because it ended up changing my life.

  3. ant

    Learn more about ants here

  4. Gilles

    Hi there, the docu is being interrupted by 'ads' that block the whole video. I've only been able to watch the first 10 minutes. The ad doesn't appear, only a blackened screen. Hope this can be repaired. I'd love to watch the entire documentary.

  5. CommonSense

    new link plz. it was removed :'(

  6. GunnarInLA

    ...outstanding – I gave it 9, but was thinking if I should, for the first time, give it a ten...(but then, there is nothing to top that, so...)...fabulous documentary...

  7. Beyondmatter

    "Till, when they came to the valley of the ants, one of the ants said: O ants! Enter your dwellings, lest Sulaiman (Solomon) and his hosts crush you, while they perceive not."

    Quran 27:18

    "There is not a moving (living) creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you. We have neglected nothing in the Book, then unto their Lord they (all) shall be gathered." Quran 6:38

    1. mike jarvis

      would like more information the quote 27:18???is this the earliest perceived conflict, say disagreement, between Muslim and Jew.not playing dumb to provoke a response I am just curious? for disclosure reasons I am agnostic in nature.

  8. toddy potseed

    I wonder do the ants prefer one type of leaf to another
    And again an awesome doc.

    1. bcbingram

      Why sure they have favs. but I bet the the real determinate is the Fungi, what the fungi loves the ants bring.

  9. Pete

    I live in Belize,surrounded ,by leaf cutters{wee wee's] , they've raped my orange tree's, and fire ants giving painful bites.

    1. WiseGapist

      I have a hunch you work for the Belize tourist board^

      This is an excellent doc, and they are amazing examples of life and evolution, BUT I certainly wouldn't like them in my back garden, good luck saving your trees!

  10. Russ Tul

    Great documentary. I remember reading that ontologically and socially, the and reached its optimum level of evolutionary develolpment millions of years ago and for this reason, there has been virtually no further evolution since then.

  11. Torie

    This was great! Very engaging and well done.

  12. ~Oliver B Koslik Esq

    This was a great documentary!

    I didn't get "antsy" during any parts!
    Its all cutting edge any farm technology!


  13. Luyang Han

    It is just amazing and informative. Worth the 1 1/2 hour!

  14. Frankie Kate

    very interesting documentary BBC!!! plus the colony being studied is from my home land Trinidad!!!