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'Ant Man' The Real Superhero: Power To Walk Forward And Backward Without Wandering Off While Carrying Extremely Heavy Loads

First Posted: Jan 23, 2017 02:54 AM EST
“Ant Man” The Real Superhero
Ants use the position of the Sun in finding their way back home.
(Photo : Shashi Prakash Negi/YouTube screenshot)

Many children across the world want to become superhero like Spiderman and Batman. But if one asks entomologists (insect experts), they would rather be "Ant-Man."

It is already known that ants can carry loads about 10 times their body weight. But what was unknown is how they manage to find their way back home. A recent study made by researchers from the University of Edinburgh and the Research Center on Animal Cognition in Paris revealed that ants are excellent navigators, so much so that they do not even need compass to track their direction. They can also track the right direction while walking backward and carrying heavy food loads.

Ant Brain: Small Yet Powerful

The size of ant brain is even smaller than the size of a pin head But that does not make it any bit inferior. Ants carry out complex and advanced cognitive functions, the scientists working on them said. They can even memorize surroundings and use the position of the Sun to guide them.

This was proven when the scientists used mirrors to reflect the Sun, which confused the ants and they started walking in the wrong directions, India Today reported.

Walking Backward with a Heavy Load

The scientists also found that the ants that carried heavy loads of food had difficulty turning, so they chose to walk backward. Surprisingly, this does not affect their sense of direction and they could easily find their way back home.

Antoine Wystrach, lead researcher of the study from the University of Edinburgh, said, "Our main finding is that ants can decouple their direction of travel from their body orientation." Wystrach added, "They can maintain a direction of travel, let's say north, independently of their current body orientation."

This study also changed the previously accepted notion of ants using egocentric frame of reference and suggested that maintaining direction while walking backward indicates that they employ allocentric frame of reference, Tech Times reported.

If being "Ant-Man" means acquiring the power to understand celestial cues to find directions, super strength to lift and carry extremely heavy loads, then who would not want to be?

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