Researchers reporting in Current biology November 19th found that a large number of regular secluded, inhabited, ancient termite bridges in…
Researchers reporting in Current biology November 19th found that a large number of regular secluded, inhabited, ancient termite bridges in northeastern Brazil are up to about 4000 years old and cover an area that is the size of UK.
The highs, which are easily visible on Google Earth, are not bon. Rather, they are the result of the slow and stable excavation of the insects by a network of interconnected subway. Termites’ activities for thousands of years have resulted in large amounts of land deposited in approximately 200 million conical heights, each about 2.5 meters long and 9 meters above.
Conical ground hooves 2.5 meters high and more have been deposited on the surface for thousands of years. (S. Martin / R. Funch / CC BY 4.0)
“These piles were formed by a single termite that excavated a massive network of tunnels to give them access to dead leaves to eat safely and directly from the wood floor, says Stephen Martin at the University of Salford in Britain. “The amount of land excavated is over 10 cubic kilometers, representing 4000 great pyramids in Giza, representing one of the largest structures built by a single insect species.”  “This is apparently the world’s most comprehensive biotechnological effort of a single insect species,” adds Roy Funch of Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana, Brazil. “Perhaps most exciting of all – the heights are extremely old – up to 4000 years, similar to the pyramids . “
The highs are largely hidden from the view of the completely leafy, semi-arid, dry-scrub caatinga forests unique to northeastern Brazil. They would only really come stood by “third parties”, including researchers, when some of the fields were cleared for pastures in recent decades.
This image shows elevation field. Hogarna is found in the caatinga vegetation of the dry, dry, dry forest, and can be seen when the soil is cleared for pastures. (Roy Funch / CC BY 4.0)
Soils sampled from the center of 11 heights and dated showed that the ridge was filled 690 to 3 820 years ago. It makes them about as old as the world’s oldest known termites in Africa.
The researchers investigated whether the strange regular space patterns of the fair are driven by competition among termites in neighbors. Their behavior test found some aggression on the altitude plan. It is compared with obvious aggression among termites gathered at greater distances from each other.
The over 200 million peaks are regularly distributed over 230,000 square kilometers. (Roy Funch / CC BY 4.0)
The results lead the researchers to suggest that the overshadowed spatial pattern is not generated by aggressive interactions. Instead, Martin and his colleagues suggest that the rise pattern arose through self-organizational processes facilitated by the increased network connection of the tunnel network and driven by episodic decay in the dry forest.
They say that a pheromone map can allow the termites to minimize their travel time from anywhere in the colony to the nearest waste heap. The large tunnel network also allows secure access to sporadic food supplies, similar to those seen in bare mole roots, which also live in dry regions and build a very extensive burrow network for food, the researchers report.
“It’s amazing that in this day and age you can find an” unknown “biological wonders of this pure size and age that still exists, with passengers still present,” Martin says.
The researchers say there are many questions to continue. For example, nobody knows how these termite colonies are physically structured, as a queen’s chamber of the species has never been found.
This research was supported by the RRF supported by FAPESB and CNPq.
Top image: Source: Youtube Screenshot
Article 4000-year-old termites found in Brazil are visible from space “originally published on Science Daily.
Source: Cell Press. “4000-year-old termites found in Brazil are visible from space.” Science. Science Daily November 20, 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181120073648.htm