Army Ants Teach Scientists How to Make Moving Bridges

Army Ant Bridge
Army Ant Bridge

A new study shows that army ants are able to make bridges that move. They’re a predatory nomadic species of ant, raiding other insect colonies for territory and food.

12. Ant Army 1

Army Ants Adjust Bridges to Optimize Traffic

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences dissects the process through which army ants create these bridges. The team from Germany looked into one specific kind of army ant, the Eciton hamatun.

These Ants Are Even Able to Cover Potholes in Movement

They traveled to Panama to examine the species in the wild and then used a 3D printed platform to test the building prowess of the ants in a habitat apart from their natural one. They adjusted this pane and angled it so that ants had to travel up and down a peak.

At the beginning, the ants created a bridge at the very top of the peak, but with time, the bridge became larger and moved lower on the peak to make the crossing distance shorter.

An Inspiration for Modern Architecture?

This study, aside from examining the army ants’ problem-solving abilities as well as their ability to adapt, but it could also inspire architecture. We’ve seen moving staircases in films like the Harry Potter series, but we could one day see real moving bridges to optimize traffic in our cities.