“ANTS ARE EXPERIENCED FUNGUS FARMERS
This headline appeared in the 25 March, 2008, issue of the scientific web site Science Daily. Scientists investigating Dominican amber carried out a wide-ranging study lasting 15 years into the perfect abilities of ants. A total of 91 species of ant were studied, including 65 leaf-cutter ants.
The report concentrated on leaf-eating ants. The distinguishing feature of these ants is the way they cut up leaves. But they do not eat these leaves they cut. Instead, they use them to grow the fungi on which they feed. One specimen of these ants, which work just like farmers, was trapped in Dominican amber 25 million years ago. The ant, perfectly preserved exactly as it was on that day, aroused the interest of scientists. The scientists who investigated the fossil ant, which possessed flawless abilities, with leaf-eating ants alive today determined that their features were exactly the same, and described the ant in question as a ‘living fossil.’
This photograph shows the head of a soldier leaf-cutter ant. Leaf-cutter ant nests contain millions of worker ants. Leaf-cutter ant colonies can survive for up to 20 years and consume as much grass as an adult cow.
SPIDER BLOOD FOUND IN A 20-MILLION-YEAR-OLD SPIDER FOSSIL
This report about a Manchester University scientist finding spider blood (hemolymph*) in 20-million-year-old Dominican amber appeared on the Science Daily web site on 30 September, 2005. Two droplets of blood were identified in this 20-million-year-old amber containing a spider of the species Filistatidae, which is found widely in South America and the Caribbean. These droplets of blood are highly significant as the first spider blood to be discovered in amber.
As can be seen from this amber specimen, spiders of the species Filistatidae living 20 million years ago were created with the same perfect circulatory systems as specimens alive today.
* respiratory fluid that flows through the bodies of insects and the like.