Sometimes the biggest LOLs come from the smallest things. Today’s Video of the Day features an ant running a treadmill and we’re lovin it.
In an effort to learn more about how ants find and select their homes, a team researchers from Ulm University in Germany constructed a special treadmill. They glued dental floss to the back of the ants and tethered them to a lightweight styrofoam ball. As the ball began rolling, the ants started running. Sensors recorded information upon each step the ants took, measuring changes in direction, gate, and speed.
While treadmills have been used to study animal movement for decades, they have not been sensitive enough to track the tiny legs of ants until now.
“Our new design enables us to study the fast-running and very quickly turning desert ants,” Dr. Matthias Wittlinger, co-author of the study and research fellow with the Institute of Neurobiology at Ulm University, told Live Science.
The team originally caught the ants by a feeder that was only 33 feet from their nest, so the ants already had calculated a route back home.
“They virtually travel for many meters on the treadmill, as if they were running in the open field,” Dr. Wittlinger explained.
The researchers used this data to determine that ants measure how far they have travelled by counting their steps and use the sun to calibrate direction.
The team published their findings in the journal Experimental Biology.
By: Rory Arnold, Earth.com Staff Writer