Cannibalistic Bunker-Ant-Colony


Bei einem alten, vergammelten Bunker in Polen in Templewo haben sie eine Ameisenkolonie gefunden, die ihr Nest genau über einem Ventilations-Rohr gebaut hat, weshalb die Ameisen regelmäßig in den Innenraum des Bunkers fallen. Und so hat sich dort im Laufe der Zeit eine zweite, komplementäre Kolonie gebildet.

Die Ameisen im Bunker dürften eigentlich nicht überleben, aber irgendwie tun sie es. Entweder ernähren sie sich von Fledermaus-Exkrementen oder Milben – oder sie wurden (zwar unwahrscheinlich, aber geiler) zu einer kannibalistischen Kolonie der Ameisen-Leichenfresser, die sich wie Ghoule von dem riesigen Insektenfriedhof ernähren, der sich da unten im Laufe der Jahre angesammelt hat. Wissenschaftler haben die Erde des zentimeterdicken Ameisenfriedhofs untersucht und festgestellt, dass ein Kubikdezimenter davon rund 8000 tote Ameisen enthält. That's one creepy Ant-Colony.

Und: Das ganze ist natürlich das Chitin-gewordene Ameisen-Äquivalent zu H.G.Wells The Time Machine, wo Menschen in Rohren unter die Erde gehen und von der parasitären Menschen-Gattung der Morlock verspeist werden. All hail to the Morlock-Ants!

bunkaHier das Paper: Living beyond the limits of survival: wood ants trapped in a gigantic pitfall, Snip von Ars Technica: Bizarre ant colony discovered in an abandoned Polish nuclear weapons bunker.

Because conditions in the bunker are so harsh, constantly cold, and mostly barren, the ants seem to live in a state of near-starvation. They produce no queens, no males, and no offspring. The massive group tending the nest is entirely composed of non-reproductive female workers, supplemented every year by a new rain of unfortunate ants falling down the ventilation shaft. […]

"Flat parts of the earthen mound [of the nest] and the floor of the adjacent spaces ... were carpeted with bodies of dead ants," write Czechowski and colleagues. This "ant cemetery" was a few centimeters thick in places, and "one cubic decimeter sample contained [roughly] 8,000 corpses," which led the researchers to suggest that there were likely 2 million dead ants piled around the nest mound. The sheer numbers of dead bodies suggest that this orphaned wood ant nest has been active for many years.

The ant graveyard is also host to a tiny ecosystem, where mites and a few other invertebrates feed on the bodies of the dead wood ants. The question is, what are the wood ants eating? It's possible they have figured out how to eat the creatures who feast in their cemeteries, essentially making them cannibals at one remove. But Czechowski and his team dismiss this as unlikely. It's also possible that there are nutrients growing in the bat guano from the ants' only living neighbors in the bunker. But in their years of observation, the scientists still haven't figured out for certain what the ants' source of food is. […]

The paper's conclusion reads like a dystopian science fiction scene from the 1970s: The wood-ant ‘colony’ described here – although superficially looking like a functioning colony with workers teeming on the surface of the mound – is rather an example of survival of a large amount of workers trapped within a hostile environment in total darkness, with constantly low temperatures and no ample supply of food. The continued survival of the ‘colony’ through the years is dependent on new workers falling in through the ventilation pipe. The supplement of workers more than compensates for the mortality rate of workers such that through the years the bunker workforce has grown to the level of big, mature natural colonies.