Study says nocturnal ants have evolved night vision

October 6, 2010
Study says nocturnal ants have evolved night vision
Photo by Ajay Narendra.

( -- Researchers studying the eyes of different Australian bull ants have found the first evidence of adaptation of visual structures within a single species to distinct light intensities.

The research, led by Dr. Ajay Narendra of the Division of , and Genetics at The Australian National University, found that the eye structure of the bull genus Myrmecia changed according to their role in the colony. Ants which were required to work at and walk were equipped with night vision, while ants whose role required day work or had to fly had a different eye structure.

“Our research shows that the time of day insects are active and the task they carry out influences eye design,” said Dr. Narendra.

“We discovered that in certain species worker activity times and flight times of winged forms do not match. In all cases, individuals active at night were equipped with equipment: more and larger facets and wider rhabdoms (photosensitive structure in the eyes of most arthropods), compared to the day-active individuals.”

Dr. Narendra said the ants’ caste system lent itself to studying differences.

“To identify if tasks carried out by individuals influences eye design, we took advantage of the unique caste system of ants. In ants, workers are sterile females and strictly pedestrian. Each colony also produces winged females that fly for a brief period and then stay in the dark confines of the nest. The colony also produces winged males that lead a life on the wing and have a very short lifespan. Those winged males, in all cases, have more but smaller facets in each eye.

“Insects are active in the day, at twilight or even at night. The striking change that occurs as one moves from day to night is the dramatic decrease in light intensities. Light levels at night are up to a million times dimmer than day light intensities. They restrict activity to certain times of the day to avoid predators and to look for suitable food resources.

“While our work shows stunning differences in eye design tuned to ambient light levels, the improvement in optical sensitivity is modest considering the dim light intensities. Insects might further require temporal or spatial integration of signals to improve signal-noise ratio at dim light. We aim to address this in our future work.”

Explore further: Ants die alone, protecting their nest mates from infection

More information: The researchers' paper is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences today.

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1 / 5 (7) Oct 06, 2010
nocturnal ants have evolved night vision

That's a nice trick, seeing as all things were CREATED by God, not evolved.

You guys are a few thousand years behind the times...
5 / 5 (2) Oct 06, 2010
Evolved, like god couldn't have created because of the tremendous incompetence possessed by your god as described in your story book. Accepting evolution is step 1 to being taken seriously. Step 2 is gravity.
not rated yet Oct 08, 2010
Look, I'm not going to say you cannot believe that God created all things, but what I will say is if you believe that, you probably believe God can create miracles too. In fact you expect God to create miracles and if he doesn't he will have failed you as God. You will be tremendously disappointed by putting God on such a high pedastal. Please do not put impossible tasks before your lord. God is the only one who will decide and expect what miracles he does, if any. The processes which God decides to use in the creations of this reality are his to choose, not yours. If God decides to use the laws and designs of the reality he may or may not have created, it's entirely his choice. If you believe God did it otherwise, you probably will be disappointed, but, God is still God and no one can ever change that, you will still have a soul and you will still have free will. Now I know this is completely off topic so I will add that I personally believe in the process of evolution.
5 / 5 (1) Oct 08, 2010
@Quantum Conumdrum

If you are basing your "science" knowledge on ancient Jewish, Christian or Islamic texts rather than modern research-level biology texts then it is you, not the authors of this study, who is several thousand years behind the times. Until you have obtained sufficient education to obtain research funding in this area your comments have no credibility.

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