Week 5 - Colonial Insects

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Week 5 - Colonial Insects
by Phil Morris - Tuesday, 15 March 2016, 4:59 PM

Focus Questions:

  1. What are the differences between "truly social" insects and partially social insects?
  2. What is a superorganism, and are there other examples of these in nature?
  3. Why could an ant colony be said to be "genius"?
  4. How did social insects evolve?
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What would happen if suddenly, eusocial hive-builders were the only animals on Earth? Bees, ants, termites, symbiotic aphids, some wasps, and a few ambrosia beetles would represent the entire animal kingdom. All other animals disappear, leaving these "insect societies" with an entire planet to colonize, and no vertebrate predators.

Colonial insects have already evolved some of the most sophisticated strategies in nature. Building ventilated nests, developing into soldier and worker castes, herding aphids, hunting in military formations, literally exploding to defend their colonies, and a myriad of other complex behaviors.

If their only competitors were other hive organisms, evolving better and better strategies for cooperation and survival, and more and more advanced swarm intelligence just how complex and adaptive could they become? Could they approach sentience?

Which groups would be first to recolonize rivers and oceans?

Could they reclaim the roles of vertebrates?

Would any new morphs, castes, and specializations evolve among hive insects?

Visit the original thread to see some other answers...

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