Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ants and Agriculture.

Agriculture in humans arose around 11,000 years ago give or take a few thousand years with the domestication of grasses across the world. Wheat, Rice, Maize, and others were the domestic crops upon which agriculture was based. Before that Hunter gather groups did grow plants but not in an organized social way like they do in agriculture.
Ants evolve something like generalized agriculture 50 million years ago. Around 15 million years after the Dinosaurs kicked the bucket. This is co-evolution of species (the ants harvest fungi) not merely breaking up of the ground that ants normally do that's beneficial to plants.
I'd never given that much thought to ants, they're not as easy to study as bees which have a fascinating dance language and an industry appeal right of the bat. But Ants have been recently on my mind due to the connection to flowering plants that I hadn't considered. Ants don't pollinate plants, so their contribution went unnoticed by me, but they are essentially micro terraforming creatures.
The other day they put some new pavement on the road next to my apt. I was walking a few days after and ants had broken through and their colony (which had been sealed under) was thriving, bringing food and other items from the grass on my neighbor's yard.

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