Monday, August 23, 2010


Artist may have chosen wrong ant species to test anti-fast-food hypothesis (the story is by Sheila Prakash for the New York Times):
Dr. Michael S. Engel, a paleontologist and entomologist at the University of Kansas and a co-author, with David Grimaldi, of the sweeping book “Evolution of the Insects,” said the exhibit sounded fascinating but added, “If I had to toss in a particular group of ants into an enclosure to see how well they were going to thrive off of junk food, I’d throw in generalist carnivores and omnivores like army ants.”

Pogonomyrmex, or “Pogos,” as they are affectionately known in the trade, are more selective eaters. Though mostly granivores, Pogonomyrmex badius workers will sometimes patrol for dead insects and termites to bring to the colony after a desert rain.

At the gallery last week, many of the ants were dead. A few looked disoriented. This exhibit lacks a queen and brood, so the workers are leading a life devoid of its fundamental purpose.

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