Thursday, December 23, 2004

Ant-eresting questions...

Ok, I'll say it before y'all do - that was a (very) laboured pun! But still a fun pun, made only because this post is about ants. BuggieYep, those pesky little insects that are so common in tropical countries (or when the weather is hot). What caught my interest in the first place was this piece of trivia: The ant can lift 50 times its own weight, can pull 30 times its own weight and always falls over on its right side when intoxicated.

Stretch a point, and I can visualise how some enterprising insect-specialist (what are they called?) must have weighed an ant on microscopic scales, then loaded it with increasing amounts of some minuscule material until it (the ant, not the material) collapsed. Thus arriving at the conclusion that an average ant can carry 50 times its own weight.

Then, to test its pulling abilities, the specialist probably harnessed the ant (same one? different one? who knows!) to a micro-cart and kept loading it with ant-sized material until it (the ant, not the material) couldnt move any further. Thereby, yet again, arriving at the conclusion that the average ant can pull 30 times its own weight.

With me so far? That was a reasonable exercise in imagination, wasnt it?

But getting an ant intoxicated - that boggled my imagination rather. Ok, so it always falls over on its right side when it's intoxicated. That's just the bare fact. There is so much more that has been left out, things we dont know about intoxicating and intoxicated ants. How DOES one get an ant intoxicated? On what? How much of whatever liquor does it take? Does it prefer beer to spirits? What sort of a glass does it use? Does it prefer a straw? How does one keep an ant merely (and possibly merrily) intoxicated without it going over into the blind raving drunk zone? Would the ant prefer a bar or a pub, or would it be pleased to spend Happy Hour in a lab, in a spirit of scientific endeavour?

So many details, so few facts!

PS. Just remembered what insect-specialists are called - entomologists! There, that's one fact to start with. Orange Mix


Harish said...

So that ant I saw lying on its right had been snubbed by the ant it loved? :)

That reminds me.. don't believe it when they say "Ants are the busiest creatures". The darn things are always there in picnic spots!

And I'm glad I found one sect of ppl who're more vetti than I am.. Entamologists. :)

F e r r a r i said...

The one that gets intoxicated. Is it a red ant?
Or wood ant(kattai eRumbu) or Pillayar ant(the black one. I dont know its englepees name)?

Shyam said...

See? More unanswered questions, more unknown details! I'll add your questions to my list, Prabhu :) I dont know if it's the nasty biting red ant or the kattai-erumbu... but tell you what, I dont think it could be the pillaiyar erumbu if only because it sounds holy! ;)

Shyam said...

Curses, yes, it could have been the Devdas of the ant world ;-) But just think, it could have been an ant currently undergoing intoxication experimentation... :)

ABCD said...

Really ant-eresting post, Shyam. I have no antagonist views against ants in general, but I have a strict antipathy towards red-ants. Their bites are real painful. OUCH!

I had a friend in school named Antony, who used to gobble up trivia like these. Here are some selected ant-facts he told me, from a book titled "An Ant Anthology": It is widely acclaimed that the antecedents of today's ants actually originated in Antananarivo. But many other entomologists (should be called antomologists i guess :-B ) have an antithesis against this. They claim that Antigua was the place of origin. (?!)

But, watching these little creatures' antics is really interesting though. How they rapidly materialize outta nowhere and cluster around foodstuff is amazing. Probably something to do with their antennae, me thinks.

Hmmm... what would happen if ants got intoxicated? [chortles] I can imagine a drunken ant singing, "Joy to the world, God'sh in hish heaven and all ish well in the ant-colony. Hic!" If they could think they would probably use antidotes. Touchwood! There is actually a drug called Antabuse!!! (A drug (trade name Antabuse) used in the treatment of alcoholism; causes nausea and vomiting if alcohol is ingested.)Okie, that was one long comment. Ere's the anticipated anticlimax to this cheerful banter;

An entomologist once noticed an ordered gathering of ants in an ant-colony under study. Interested, he turned the radio-wave amplifier to its maximum power. There was an odd sort of noise. Attributing the behaviour of this gathering to the patriotic nature of ants towards their colonies, he declared in his thesis later, that the ant-gathering was singing an anthem.
Antelope was already taken by Magix ;)Cheerio! :-)

Mandatory Warning: Except for "Antabuse" the rest of the info is purely imaginative.

Shyam said...

Aswin, that was fANTastic! :)

ABCD said...

[bows] Thanx :-)

Anonymous said...

entomologist? was that ANTomologist?