Home > MAD scientists > Welcome to a brave new world: Genetic scientists create freakish man-made monster ants with huge heads and jaws

Welcome to a brave new world: Genetic scientists create freakish man-made monster ants with huge heads and jaws

January 6, 2012

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A supersoldier next to a normal ant: Scientists say they can create the supersoldiers at will by dabbing normal ant larvae with a special hormone - the larvae then develop into supersoldiers rather than normal soldier or worker antsNightmarish ‘supersoldier’ ants with huge heads and jaws have been created by activating ancient genes.

Scientists believe the monster ants may be a genetic throwback to an ancestor that lived millions of years ago.

Scientists say they can create the supersoldiers at will by dabbing normal ant larvae with a special hormone – the larvae then develop into supersoldiers rather than normal soldier or worker ants.

A supersoldier next to a normal ant: Scientists say they can create the supersoldiers at will by dabbing normal ant larvae with a special hormone – the larvae then develop into supersoldiers rather than normal soldier or worker ants

Supersoldier ants can occur naturally in the wild, but only rarely. In the deserts of America and Mexico, their job is to protect the colony from raids by invading army ants.

The supersoldiers use their enormous heads to block the nest entrance and attack any enemy ants that get too close.

Scientists showed that ordinary ants of the species Pheidole morrisi contain all the genetic ‘tools’ needed to turn them into supersoldiers – they just need a hormonal push.

The research is reported today in the journal Science.

Scientists created the monster ants in the laboratory by activating ancient ancestral genesScientists created the monster ants in the laboratory by activating ancient ancestral genes

Authors Dr Rajendhran Rajakumar, from McGill University, Canada, and colleagues wrote: ‘We uncovered an ancestral development potential to produce a novel supersoldier subcaste that has been retained throughout a hyperdiverse ant genus that evolved 35 to 60 million years ago.’

The results suggest that holding on to ancestral development toolkits may play an important role in evolving new physical traits, say the researchers.

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  1. January 6, 2012 at 2:09 am

    astegg..creating new monsters, aren’t we?

    • January 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      These crazy scientists will never cease, it’s just a matter of time before something is created that will cause a epidemic like the ones you see in the movies.

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