Ants use an internal pedometer to find their way home without getting sidetracked, a new study reports.
Desert ants on foraging expeditions use celestial cues to orient themselves in the homeward direction, but with few landmarks in the barren land, scientists have wondered how the insects always take the most direct route and know exactly how far to march.
The new study reveals that counting their steps is a crucial part of the scheme.
The ant “pedometer” technique was first proposed in 1904, but remained untested until now.
Scientists trained desert ants, to walk along a straight path from their nest entrance to a feeder 30 feet away.
If the nest or feeder was moved, the ants would break from their straight path after reaching the anticipated spot and search for their goal.
Try that on stilts
Next, the researchers performed a little cosmetic surgery.
They glued stilt-like extensions to the legs of some ants to lengthen stride. The researchers shortened other ants’ stride length by cutting off the critters’ feet and lower legs, reducing their legs to stumps.
By manipulating the ants’ stride lengths, the researchers could determine whether the insects were using an odometer-like mechanism to measure the distance, or counting off steps with an internal pedometer.
The ants on stilts took the right number of steps, but because of their increased stride length, marched past their goal. Stump-legged ants, meanwhile, fell short of the goal.
After getting used to their new legs, the ants were able to adjust their pedometer and zero in on home more precisely, suggesting that stride length serves as an ant pedometer.
The study is detailed in the June 30 2006 issue of the journal Science.
Selling pros, like desert ants, feed themselves best when they follow a system to attain their goals.
How well do you forage for prospects, find what you need, then return home to celebrate and feast?
Fall a few steps short and you never cash a check. Travel too far and you work too hard instead of too smart.
A very wise man, Solomon said it best…
You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. Proverbs 6:6
Put your system into play and watch your numbers grow!