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Ants Count on Visual Memory and Position of the Sun to Navigate

Besides being known as the animal that has a high work ethic, ants are also known for outstanding navigation capabilities.

Now, a recent study by a team of researchers from Britain and France revealed that the ability of ant navigation was more amazing than we knew before.

Experiments conducted by a team of ants desert shows that these insects keeping with the direction of travel based on the position of the sun in the sky that they combine the visual information of the surrounding environment.

“Ants can combine information from different assumptions and translate them into a picture of a much more sophisticated way than we imagined,” said one researcher, Antonie Wystrach of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS).

“Transfer aspect of this information shows the synergy between areas of the brain that is different,” added Wystrach.

Observe the environment around is easily done if the ant goes forward. But, sometimes the ants have to walk backwards when carrying large meals.

So, how do the ants going backwards maintain the direction of travel in order to remain in the correct route?

The experiments in this study revealed that the ant that runs backwards would occasionally stop, drop food, and turned to examine the environment around him. This is done to match what they see with a visual memory of the route to the nest, and can correct the direction of travel if it turns out they were wrong route.

Professor of the University of Edinburgh, Barbara Webb, said that the ants can navigate like a car swakemudi.

“Ants have relatively small brains, smaller than a pinhead. But they can navigate well even in a range of difficult conditions, including walking backwards, “he said.

Going forward, further studies are expected to help to determine the interaction between the various regions of the brain that allows the insect ants use and combine various forms of navigation.

“Understanding their behavior gives new understanding of brain function and inspired us to build robotic systems which mimic the function of their brains.”

Scientists in the team plans to make models of neural circuits in the brain like ants. They hope to develop a robot that can navigate in nature, such as forests, for example.

Source: National Geographic Indonesia