Ants send a rescue team if your a friend or a death squad if your a stranger

Animal altruism is not unheard of: dolphins, monkeys and even the occasional human have been known to help out a fellow. Turns out ants have a habit of launching sophisticated rescue operations if one of their own is in trouble.

Elise Nowbahari from the University of Paris Nord buried individuals of the desert ant Cataglyphis cursor, after knotting nylon threads knotted around the thinnest parts of their waists. Five potential rescuers were brought into play. If the captive came from the same colony, the five-ant squad always tried to rescue them, by moving sand away, biting precisely at the snare, and pulling on the prisoner’s limbs.

Now, posts about insect altruism tends to attract comments from people who come over all misty-eyed and long for humans to follow in the ants’ selfless example. Well if we take that sentiment quite literally, then based on the behaviour of C. cursor, we should only help people who live in our own house or flat, and brutally attack everyone else. [Not Exactly Rocket Science]

The ant rescue teams know when go into actions because struggling ants release a pheromone that signals for help. But if an ant don’t smell right, the rescue team is likely to become a death squad that bites, dismembers, and spray the intruder with acid.

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