Saturday, November 1, 2014

Mycocepurus goeldii and Mycocepurus castrator

Today I came across a really interesting discovery made by a German researcher Christian Rabeling. It is a very important discovery for evidence towards evolution. 

Take a look at these ants.

These are two queen ants, who live in the same same colony.

"The ant colony they studied was situated under a group of eucalyptus trees at São Paulo State University in Brazil. The familiar ant, Mycocepurus goeldii, is a fungus-farming species, meaning it grows fungus and relies on it for nutrients. This ant has been observed throughout Brazil and in neighboring countries. But within that one colony on the university campus exists a parasite ant, Mycocepurus castrator. Rather than help grow fungus, the parasites spend their lives eating the food reserves and reproducing. Sometimes they go undetected; other times, mobs of the farmer ants identify and kill them."

The article goes on to talk about how the discoverers, Rabeling and Schultz, are confident that this is one of the best cases of "Sympatric Speciation" which is where a species splits into two species without any geographic separation.

In the world of Science, there hasn't been any real solid evidence of it happening, so scientists have been skeptical of its existence. Darwin's theory is that evolution happens if there is a change in geographic location or environment. Sympatric Speciation goes against this idea.

If Rabeling and Schultz can prove that these ants really did evolve in the same geographic location then this will be a solid breakthrough in the science of evolution. 

I really recommend reading it here at the Smithsonian so that people who are paid to write about science can explain it to you much clearer, and in a much more interesting way.

Ants are cool,

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