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back to article Ants have careers; you don't want them

Ants don't have a career ladder, they have a career hole, and only the wiliest of the insects can avoid falling down it according to the latest research. A particular genus of carpenter ants (Camponotus fellah) exist in a complex social structure, where their first jobs see them caring for the queen and her offspring, and as the …

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Anonymous Coward

Camp? O not us, fellah!

Ant career path: you might be working for a big old queen, but at least there are no pointy-haired bosses.

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Bronze badge

Re: Camp? O not us, fellah!

Just wait. Continued research will uncover the Peter Principle present in ants as well.

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Anonymous Coward

Its reminds me that we're all just Ants in the larger schema of things...

"...where their first jobs see them caring for the queen and her offspring, and as the ants age many of them wind up working at more and more of a distance from the big cheese..."

...Sounds like working for a tech start-up....

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Maybe the ant HR department is just discriminating against ants that wear the backpacks.

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Joke

Wouldn't that be the FR (Formicid Resources) department?

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Black Helicopters

If you had to work close to her fat highness

you too would gravitate to the relative freedom of the outsides.

Did they measure the disgruntlement index of the nurses versus the cleaners and foragers?

(icon has some remote semblance to an ant...)

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Pint

Re: If you had to work close to her fat highness

Personally, I always view getting further away from the boss as a promotion!

I seem to recall that some species of ants very much have a career dead-end, with a handful (probably not literally) of older ants staying outside the nest each night during colder weather in order to seal the nest shut overnight so that it keeps warm... thus condemning themselves to dying of exposure.

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Happy

They Were Tired

The sensors were made with a printer & weighed up to 18% of the ants body weight! That's impressive for constantly carrying around. The entire tracking system is described here (PDF) http://m.sciencemag.org/content/suppl/2013/04/17/science.1234316.DC1/Mersch.SM.pdf

It is a pretty cool read.

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Alien

Re: They Were Tired

I sure hope if aliens come and want to monitor us, they don't stick something weighing 35 lbs on my back!

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Joke

Re: They Were Tired

No, that just happens when you join the army...

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Re: They Were Tired @doug

I'd be more worried about the Aliens trying to get 35kg of monitoring equipment up my ass.

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Re: They Were Tired

No it will just be a little smooth slab of metal and glass with a shiny screen.

I for one, welcome our black polo-neck wearing overlords.

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Pint

Re: They Were Tired

Only 35lb would be bliss!

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Pint

Re: They Were Tired

"I sure hope if aliens come and want to monitor us, they don't stick something weighing 35 lbs on my back!"

No, they've got the weight of tracking devices/smartphones down to a much more reasonable level...

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Re: Ant's IT career

*BEST*

ARM Assembly Language Programmer

C++ Dev

.

.

.

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Trollface

Re: Ant's IT career

Mind if I rate C above C++?

Come on, honestly....

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Trollface

Re: Ant's IT career

@Eadon

Mmmm... I have to somewhat disagree.. In my opinion, complexity is a major issue when it comes to code, both in term of code maintenance, evolution, bug corrections, and ultimately... performance. Like it or not, chips are made by humans, and they do hate complexity as much as we do.

So all in all, agree with you IF and only IF you can stick with a subset of C++... and in that case your humble servant thinks you'd be better off with straight C, which funnily enough address most of C++ deficiencies (troll inside, agreed =D )

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Anonymous Coward

Mirror mirror on the wall

The assumption that stay-at-home proximity to the queen coupled with constant interaction with other ants in an environment of total darkness represents the pinnacle of career achievement —while working at a distance from the colony, in daylight, with less fellow-ant contact is the nadir —seems back-to-front to me.

Really the colony is mirroring human society:

The younger ants are celebrity obsessed, constantly social networking and blindly accepting whatever they are fed in from the outside world. The older ants are more independent, more aware of the world outside, are able to work autonomously and can figure out things for themselves.

When I was a larva it was all green fields round here!

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Thumb Up

Could it be because foraging is more dangerous?

Therefore for the investment made in creating an ant, you want to get your wear out of them with the safe tasks before risking them outside.

Makes sense to me.

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Re: Could it be because foraging is more dangerous?

Also it's a task many orders more complex? Brooding can be taught through imitation. Foraging is risking, and if you can learn the first, you can learn foraging. But if you can't learn foraging, you might not get the chance to backtrack career wise to the brood. Cleaning also lets you get near the "outside" without having the venture far. So small steps and in at the shallow end.

So while they are required to "hit the ground running" they are not thrown in at the deep end to drown... so this sounds a little less than the current business strategy? ;)

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Re: Could it be because foraging is more dangerous?

Spot on: Use the units nearest their end-of-life for the activity that carries the highest risk. You beat me to it.

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Anonymous Coward

Ant ageing

@m a d r a Good one ! Are the young queen-tending ones called sycoph-ants?

Maybe there's ant loyalty being burned into their young impressionable ant brains (chemically and/or through ant neural networks), so they're not going to become rebellious or other ant-isocial behaviors later.

More likely the outward flow of ants from the queen is about disease control. If you're a sick ant, it's rubbish duty for you. So they keep an ant-iseptic environment around the queen.

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Go

Maybe the queen just likes having all the hot-looking young ants to herself?

To paraphrase Mel Brooks--"It's good to be the Queen!"

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Coat

Re: Maybe the queen just likes having all the hot-looking young ants to herself?

And the young'uns like to be near the queen of course. To paraphrase Loudon Wainwright III

"The cutest ant that I have ever seen

is our own big fat sexy queen!

True she hasn't got such great legs,

but you should see the girl lay eggs!"

Mine's the one with the dead skunk print on the back.

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Boffin

I feel so much of our own society could benefit from mirroring the model seen in insect social structure. Collectivism over competition--cooperation and altruism are evolutionarily advantageous over selfish individualism. The multicellular organization of our own bodies can be seen as evidence of this.

It makes sense that those members of society who are reaching their "prime" would be given the most important and sensitive roles of the collective. Not to diminish the importance of accrued experience, but, for certain specializations, those individuals reaching the height of their physical and mental capacities are best able to serve the greater good. This is as true in carpenter ant colonies as it is in Tokyo, Japan.

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Nurse, forager and cleaner

Mom?

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Happy

Bugger me, all of these sound like a considerable promotion. Where do I send my CV?

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Go

@Silverburn

Maybe just stuff a hard copy down the nearest ant hill? Smother it in honey for extra attention.

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