The Darth Vader Ant

The ant Cephalotes atratus is bigger than average, dresses all in black, wears a scary helmet, and appears to have super powers. It's called the Gliding Ant, but it resembles Darth Vader. This ant's super power was discovered in 2004 by Stephen P Yavoniak as he was sitting high up in the rainforest canopy.

While hanging around in the canopy waiting for mosquitoes to bite him (for research purposes rather than the fun of it) he brushed several dozen ants from him and noticed something odd.

Instead of falling randomly away from the tree the ants formed a mini cascade and landed right back on to the bark.  Intrigued, he then painted the hind legs of some ants with white nail polish (perhaps part of the usual insect ecologist’s kit?).  The ants were found to come at the tree backwards hit it and then hang on for dear life.  While most ants were successful some would fall down the tree a little farther.  A few would plummet down to the earth (seems a shame, but this is science).

But odder still is the ant's ability to make a 180-degree turn while gliding through the air! This trick helps the ants stay in their lofty home, as they always do their best to glide back to the tree on which they live. Read more about the Gliding Ant at Ark in Space. -via the Presurfer

(Image credit: Flickr user Yonatan Munk)


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