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The Empire of the Ants

The colony has been abandoned for a long time and spans an area roughly equal to 500 square feet, with its tunnels and passages spiraling down some 26 feet down into the surface, and is believed to be one of the world’s largest ant colonies, if not the largest.

Nature’s Secret Power, a documentary, speculated that this wondrous engineering structure was the effort of an active community of leafcutter fans, described as essentially a superorganism. It is estimated that the work resulted in over 40 metric tons of soil being excavated to lay the foundations of the inner structure, which is made up of an incredible network of interconnected pathways.

This complex network resulted in the efficient transportation of foraging expeditions, and a great ventilation system from within the structure. The chambers were used to grow fungus gardens and also to dispose of rubbish in dedicated pits. The leafcutter ants would have foraged for any type of vegetation to sustain their internal gardens.

RTWT@ Giant Ant MEGALOPOLIS Unearthed In Brazil | Disclose.tv

An immense flood of ants, about a hundred yards in width, was pouring in a glimmering-black cataract down the far slope of the ditch. Many thousands were already drowning in the sluggish creeping flow, but they were followed by troop after troop, who clambered over their sinking comrades, and then themselves served as dying bridges to the reserves hurrying on in their rear.

Shoals of ants were being carried away by the current into the middle of the ditch, where gradually they broke asunder and then, exhausted by their struggles, vanished below the surface. Nevertheless, the wavering, floundering hundred-yard front was remorselessly if slowly advancing towards the beseiged on the other bank. Leiningen had been wrong when he supposed the enemy would first have to fill the ditch with their bodies before they could cross; instead, they merely needed to act as steppingstones, as they swam and sank, to the hordes ever pressing onwards from behind…. Leiningen Versus the Ants–Carl Stephenson

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • ghostsniper January 15, 2020, 9:18 AM

    HA! As I started reading this and was reminded of Charleton Heston and Eleanor Parker in “The Naked Jungle”. It’s worth seeing. I may watch it again, soon, as it’s been 10 years or more since I last saw it.

    ‘za + brew + jungle = a decent evening

  • peacelovewoodstock January 16, 2020, 4:27 AM

    @ghostsniper, “The Naked Jungle” is great, it was based on the story Vanderleun links to at the end of the article above .. in fact, the character that Heston played was named “Christopher Leiningen”

  • peacelovewoodstock January 16, 2020, 4:27 AM

    @ghostsniper, “The Naked Jungle” is great, it was based on the story Vanderleun links to at the end of the article above .. in fact, the character that Heston played was named “Christopher Leiningen”

  • CC January 16, 2020, 7:21 AM

    Our local state park has an extended leaf-cutter ant colony that is visible where an entrance is on the trail.
    Probably several hundred yards long and who knows how far into the brush.
    Pretty funny to watch little marching bits of green form a line.

  • Eric Fithian January 17, 2020, 2:47 AM

    I had read the story many years before I found the episode from Old Time Radio’s anthology series “Escape.”
    From May 23rd, 1948: “Leiningen versus the Ants,” starring William Conrad — perfect choice!
    https://archive.org/download/OTRR_Escape_Singles/Escape_48-05-23_-042-_Leiningen_Versus_the_Ants_-William_Conrad_Jay_Novello-.mp3

    “..an aging, slightly decrepit eagle…”

    There were a few humans-versus-critters thrillers in that era ….

  • ghostsniper January 17, 2020, 4:12 AM

    Thanks Eric. I had to grab that link, and will grab some more.
    I like Conrad as a radio narrator. Have over 500 mp3 files of the old, early 50’s, Gunsmoke radio episodes in which Conrad plays Matt Dillon. Good stuff. They are available for download at archive.org

  • ghostsniper January 17, 2020, 4:16 AM

    Here’s the entire “Escape” library index, download as you see fit.
    Careful, stepping back in time might make you all weepy woo.
    https://archive.org/download/OTRR_Escape_Singles/

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