Ants are one of the most incredible insects in the world. They have a so-called "model society." But they also developed technology millions of years before us.
Agriculture is really what makes civilized humans "civilized." Without agriculture, we would still be back in the stone age, chopping at berries with our machine-chiseled axes and killing gazelles with our roboticly-manufactured laser guns.
But that is not the case. Instead, roughly 10,000 years ago, humans developed agriculture. Since then, we have gradually increased our ability to farm both plants and animals, and now we rule the fucking world! GO TEAM HUMAN!
Because of this incredible development in the sitcom of human growth, we have massively increased our ability to sustain large populations in urban environments.
And to think that we did this when we were all just running around as half-naked bearded men (and sometimes women).
The Ants' Version The Ants' Version
Too bad that we weren't the first to get to it.
It turns out that ants have had agriculture for millions of years. The agriculture they have isn't retarded either - it's pretty damn effective. Not all ants have this magnificent ability, though.
Only a special kind of ant benefits from the knowledge of crops, and it is known as the "fungus-growing ant" to myrmecologists (people who can only hold close relationships to near-brain-dead insects).
Fungus-growing ants, obviously, grow fungus. They specific types of fungus that they grow varies, but it is grown astoundingly effectively. In fact, some of the fungi grown by fungus-growing ants (specifically "leaf-cutter" ants) are only able to survive when the ant is growing it. That means that those ants fucking own that fungus.
Make that fungus your bitch!
There is another type of agriculture that abounds in ant culture, though. This type is called "husbandry" for the same reason that we call the wife's mate a "husband." Many ant species are the literal "husbands" of aphids. They control and command the aphids to do their bidding, and it happens. The aphids eat stuff off of leaves at the ants' direction (the ants prevent them from moving) and the ants eat their crap (also known as the sugary substance, honeydew).
So not only have ants developed the crop, they also developed animal husbandry. Millions of years ago.
Antibiotics, despite popularly-held beliefs, were not first discovered by the he-man Alexander Fleming in 1928. Instead, it was first described in England by John Tyndall in 1875. He realized that there were antibacterial properties of Penicillium (also known as the best fungus ever). However, Fleming was the person who basically made the discovery famous and made the connection between this fungus and treatment of disease. So... guess he deserves something.
Since then, antibiotics have been further developed. In 1940, another man, Selman Waksman, was studying actinobacteria when he found that they produced actinomycin - something that is completely not obvious from the name of the drug. It turns out, this drug discovered by Selman "Cpt. Obvious" Waksman is a very useful antibiotic. It is so useful that we use this class of bacteria for 80% of our antibiotics.
We now have hundreds of types of antibiotics, but it seems that, when used excessively, they make the bacteria into "drug-resistant" super bacteria....
The Ants' Version
As previously noted, ants have a very effective farming technique. There is only one problem, and it is a problem that we humans encounter when we do our agriculture.
The problem is that there are always going to be pests when there is a large quantity of good food around. So, being the primitive, tiny-brained insects that they are, they fucking developed antibiotics.
These aren't some strange antibiotics that we have never heard of, either. These are the same fucking antibiotics discovered by our hero Selman "Cpt. Obvious" Waksman. Yes - they use a type of actinobacteria to kill off the pests from their farms just like we use them to kill off the pests from our knife-wounds.
And they had them 50 million years ago.
Editor's Note: We at Cracked apologize for the horrible, horrible attempt to keep the word "ant" in the title of every section.
The invention of velcro, while somewhat
useless trivial, has made every person's life easier. We at Cracked use velcro on our shoes, pants, and shirts as a mandatory component of our work uniform. Considering the average intelligence of the human race, it is not unreasonable to assume that other workplaces do the same.
Mandatory work uniform.
The history of velcro is rather fascinating. The inventor, George de Mestral, came home from hunting with his dog one day in 1941 and found that there were those hell-spawned burrs stuck in the dog's fur and his clothing. Apparently, this is when the idea struck him to turn Satan's demonic botanical device into Mestral's convenient shoe straps. After years of research and experimentation, he finally managed to summon from the depths of the abyss the chimera now known as VelcroÂ®.
Can you tell which is Velcro?
The Ants' Version
Lots of ants live on trees. It's not a rare thing. Some even have mutualistic relationships with the trees: the ants get shelter and the trees get protection from predators in the same way that a buff hobo (e.g. Carrot Top) will sometimes live in the home of a rich geek (e.g. Bill Gates). Like in the Top-Gates relationship, some ants actually take it too far and become literally attached to their host. These ants have essentially developed velcro in order to attach themselves securely to their hometree.
Unlike their ant counterparts, the Na'vi were not attached enough to their home.
These ants are called Azteca andreae. The velcro that have that is naturally occuring is strong. With it, an ant can support up to 5,000 times its own bodyweight. That would be like a person with velcro shoes on hanging upside down holding onto something that weighs 750,000 pounds. That is the equivalent of 255 fucking Priuses (Pri-i?).
And to think that this type of ant is older than the human race. Funny, isn't it?
Propaganda as a concept has probably been around as long as people. That-one-guy-who-invented-it will probably never be known, but his work surely will be.
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community, and it is possibly one of the most useful tools in a cruel dictator's (read: politician's) belt. This definition of propaganda was first ascribed to it in the First World War, where presumably it was used by just about everyone. Since then, propaganda has been used as a form of political warfare.
As a form of political warfare, propaganda can incite dissent, protests, riots, and even civil wars. The reason for such adverse effects of language is the same for the emotional trauma you suffered as a child: words hurt.
As said by this brilliant man, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will hurt forever."
Words are the only form of propaganda that humans use, though... right?
The Ants' Version
People don't use their scent as a form of propaganda. It would be unnatural and could not possibly be effective. Right?
Wrong. Ants use pheromones (science-ese for "smell") as their form of propaganda.
One specific type of ant, known as Leptothorax kutteri, has a queen that possesses the ability to produce a substance in the Defour gland (gland the produces pheromones) that was originally thought to just be a chemical weapon for defense against enemy ants. However, it was discovered that this substance can also disrupt the ability of enemy ants to recognize each other as friendlies.
Like this, except with the lack of obvious differences between species.
What the above pseudoscientific jargon means is that the queen of L. kutteri produces a chemical from her ass that causes her enemies to have a fucking civil war. So, while all the victimized ants are duking it out with their best buds, this parasitic whore comes in and takes over their nest.
What a bitch!
Tactics was essentially invented in the 6th century B.C. by Sun Tzu. Sun Tzu was a great Chinese strategist, philosopher, and womanizer.
How could you not find this sexy?
Sun Tzu is known mostly for his authorship of The Art of War. The Art of War is essentially a playbook. It is a book on strategy and tactics, something that was not well documented until this book was written.
He thought that positioning and movement were the most important of all tactics. This type of mobile strategy had an influence on basically all guerilla warfare and is now incredibly important for modern warfare, especially when one is acting on the so-called "call of duty."
We thank you, Sun Tzu, for your contribution to society.
The Ants' Version
The ants have their own version of tactics. Unlike other animals, which generally attack the same way on each type of prey, ants will vary their positions before the battle and their movement during the battle.
Sometimes they will even change their weapons from the normal mandibal.
Formica sanguinea is one type of ant that changes its tactics. If a horde is attacking small and weak black ants or fusca ants, they will surround the nest and plunge in simultaneously. This is similar to how humans would react when attacking a weaker enemy... except that we wouldn't charge them on all sixes, mandibals snapping. But other than that, it is a very similar attack method.
However, if F. sanguinea is attacking larger and stronger ants, they will do a powerful, head-on strike, with some of the horde attacking and the rest defending their own nest from counter-attacks. They do this tactical movement against wood ants and rufa ants. This too is similar to human strategy, except that, you know, we aren't so close to our enemy's nation that we can have some of the "horde" come back and defend home base. But... no, it's actually not at all the same as our strategy. It's better.