Scientists Strap Down Ants And Shave Them

Saharan silver ants

Scientists have strapped down and shaved ants as part of their quest to find out how one species stays cool in the scorching Saharan desert.

The Saharan silver ant manages to survive in midday temperatures of up to 50C, while other creatures take shelter.

Because they are covered in tiny hairs, scientists thought that the thin downy layer was protecting them from the Sun’s rays.

To test their theory, they shaved some of the ants to see how they fared in the baking heat.

They found that the hairy ants were almost 10 times more reflective than their shaved counterparts.

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A close-up of the silvery hairs which cover their bodies

As a result, they were slower to heat up, and stayed up to 2C cooler.

A study of the hair using a scanning electron microscope led researchers to conclude that the hairs act like a mirror.

This is a unique feature in the insect kingdom.

To carry out the shaving, the ants were knocked out with a quick blast of carbon dioxide, then strapped down.

A high-powered binocular microscope was used to help guide a very sharp blade over their bodies.

It took around an hour to shave each of the ants – and around 40 were shaved in total.

 

[Source:- Skynews]

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