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back to article Boffins hack evolution, create SUPERSOLDIER ANTS

Researchers in Canada have created a new type of supersoldier ant by activating genetic material from long-dead forms of life. The team, led by professor Ehab Abouheif of the Department of Biology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, were studying ants from the genus pheidole. There are nearly 1,200 diferent species within …

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"Supersoldier Ant"?

"Supersoldier Ant"?

Well if they want to sell the rights to a movie producer or a video game company, they are going to have to do a lot better than THAT.

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Boffin

@Turtle "How about attack of the Chickenosaurus" do you think that will sell better?

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/jack_horner_building_a_dinosaur_from_a_chicken.html

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A chicken is a chicken...

A chicken is a chicken. No matter what you do to it.

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Pint

Nice

Perhaps we could create the Superman and the Batman too.

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Terminator

Super duper

Eh, Forgive me if I'm missing something (my foot-in-mouth sense is tingling a bit here, I admit), but are these not what we've generally been calling, um, soldier ants? Where does the "super" bit come in? Good ol' churnalistic hyperbole?

Icon because this sounds like the prequel to Phase IV, although it might be worth it if we get aurochs steaks...

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Boffin

Supersoldier

They exist as a separate caste alongside soldier ants, and only in some ant species (e.g. Pheidole rhea).

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Ru
FAIL

RTFA

To quote the article:

"The surprise came when they tried a similar technique with species that don’t normally produce such heavy soldiers. They found that they could still create supersoldiers in these species"

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g e
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Then one escapes.l..

Breeds, make even superer soldier ants that eventually mutate into the Locust Horde or the Chimera and ransacks the world..

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MJI
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Better polish my Auger then

Or my Bullseye!

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Flame

or mutates to breathe fire after the nuclear apocalypse, and then get stomped all over for petty kill-quests by a kid from Vault 101

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Boffin

Fun fact:

Soldier ants (and indeed, any ants but the queen and a few males) are sterile. No worries about them reproducing.

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Anonymous Coward

NO PROBLEM...

Call in the pest control, a quick squirt with 'death to ants' and they won't be so super for long.

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Bigger, more ferocious ants

Yes, that's precisely what we need more of.

If they want to play with extinct beasties can't they go back to their test tubes and rustle up a dinosaur?

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Mushroom

Don't tempt them!

Already, scientists are trying to bring back the aurocs - rather like cattle, except for being huge and bloodthirsty. Next thing you know, there will be warning about "escaped creatures" and "apocalypse monkeys" and such.

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DN4
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Image

Whoever had the bright idea of making the first image `smaller' by setting width= and height= in HTML deserves to be eaten by these ants.

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agreed

A "click to enlarge" would have sufficed for anyone wanting the full 8 megapixels.

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...and shortly after, the bipeds went extinct

It is supremely ironic that, in tinkering with natural forces that they did not fully understand, the biped scientists brought about the downfall of their own species.

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Coat

Aurochs?

I'm sure we got rid of them for a reason! Larger and more aggressive? Just the thing to meet on a nice summer's picnic... they can keep the aggressive ants with the oversized company.

Ah, yes, the one with the 'Nippon' ant killer in the pocket, thanks.

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So all those movies about giant mutant beasts running amok ...

were documentaries !! ??? !!

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Devil

I wonder if this research was sponsored by the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 guys ...

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Mushroom

I just want to say...

THEM!

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Better to say...

I for one welcome our new insect overlords...

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Trollface

I prefer Phase IV

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Trollface

Oh no.....

I sense a troll comment about messing with nature......

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Mushroom

Genetically engineered ants?

What could possibly go wrong? http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Fire_ant_%28Fallout_3%29

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In other news

A baby has been reported missing after witnesses saw what they describe as a "velociantor" running through a mall with a blue blanket in its maw.

Tune in for the special at 7, after your daily Homeland Security security bulletin.

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Unhappy

Oh no....

Better call the Earth Defence Force

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Thumb Down

sod this!

I WANT MY MAMMOTH

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When it comes to working out how to turn on

now unused genetic capabilities then I want the one that kicks my body into growing a new set of teeth... I understand a third set of teth isn't completely unknown...

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Coat

But isn't evolution only a theory?

Just kiddin'

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WTF?

Environmental stressing as a cause of genetic alteration

was initially proposed by one Trofim Lysenko during the reign of Stalin, if I remember my Soviet history correctly. His work was largely discredited by Western biologists, although anybody who dared to question Lysenko's ideas in the USSR generally earned themselves a one-way ticket to the gulag.

Are we to believe this charlatan was actually right after all?

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Boffin

?????

"... finding a way to activate the processes that would cause the much larger and more aggressive aurochs to develop..."

Why, FFS?

Just because we can is NOT a valid reason.

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Flame

Why?

Because they might be delicious!

Fire up the BBQ!

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Ru

To repair some of the damage we have done?

Restoring recently destroyed species does not seem like a wholly unreasonable idea to me. Inevitably people like you are going to draw parallels with pulp science fiction without actually considering the whole 'fiction' thing.

Also, they probably weren't hunted for fun, but more because they were made of tasty, tasty meat. Compare and contrast modern pigs with wild boar who are particularly aggressive, but also quite tasty.

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Supersoldier Ant

Never mind him, it's supersoldier Dec we should be afraid of...

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Mushroom

I just hope they don't accidentally get out of the lab

Who knows what havoc they'd wreak on other ant colonies and other forms of insect life. Like a bad sci-fi movie...

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Boffin

Not to worry...

The good thing about this type of modification—unless I badly misunderstood—is that the effect should only last one generation. In fact, supersoldier caste ants probably don't reproduce at all. But that detail aside, they're not actually changing the DNA just applying hormones to activate latent characteristics. It's not entirely unlike, how man can take hormones and grow breasts, I suppose.

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Anonymous Coward

Super CEO?

Maybe Howard Stringer should take some of those hormonez, Sony needs all the market dominating characteristics it can muster, with AAPL at a whopping 422usd.

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Go

I for one cheer the arrival of our ant saviors....

We're going to need them to fight off the hordes of mammoths and velociraptors and whatever else the eggheads are thinking of bringing out of storage!!

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Unhappy

Please don't develop methods to activate dormant characteristics in humans such as over-sized jaws, long sharp fangs, abnormally sized eyeballs and pointy ears. We all know that Twilight fans, Trekkies, anime cosplayers and various assorted wankers would abuse this science.

That they wouldn't be able to pass these characteristics on to their offspring would be the very least we could then hope for! (then again you may ask, what offspring?)

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Behaviour?

Would be interested to know if these artificially spawned super soldier ants behave in the same way as the 'natural' ones as well as growing like them.

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"I for one, etc etc...."

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Angel

Generals

Now you've gone and done it. There are military brass all over the world that are drooling on their desks (well, more so that usual). How long before we can expect these trials to move to humans (or, have they already)?!?

Dave

P.S. I want the one with the overly sized...err, never mind!

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