Sahara Desert ant

Sahara Desert Ant

Sahara Desert ant

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Description:
The Sahara Desert ant (Cataglyphis bicolor) is a desert-dwelling ant of the genus Cataglyphis. It inhabits the Sahara Desert and is one of the most heat tolerant animals known to date. However, there are at least four other species of Cataglyphis living in the Sahara desert, for example C. bombycina, C. savigny, C. mauritanicus and C. fortis.

Background

Sahara desert ants are scavengers. They forage for the corpses of insects and other arthropods which have succumbed to the heat stress of their desert environment.

While no known land animal can live permanently at a temperature over 50°C, Sahara desert ants can sustain a body temperature well above 50°C with surface temperatures of up to 70°C.

Navigation skills and internal pedometer

Measuring the sun's angle

This ant ventures far from its burrow in the Sahara desert, which has almost no identifiable features. While venturing out it periodically takes measurements of its angle in respect to the Sun. By doing this the ant can venture far from its nest in search of food. Because of the blistering heat, it can only do this for about 3–5 minutes/day (the hottest time of the day, when all its predators are in hiding from the sun). When the ant finds a dead insect it then looks at the sun and because of its periodic references to the sun's angle it knows exactly what the shortest route back to the nest is. Researchers from the Max Planck...
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