Monday, January 12, 2009

Reproductive cheating punished

Worker ants in colonies with a queen are physically attacked by their peers if they try to reproduce, a study says.

In ant society, workers normally give up reproducing to care for the queen's offspring, who are also their brothers and sisters.

The researchers found that chemicals produced by the sneaky ants gave away their fertility status.

This "reproductive policing" plays an important role in maintaining harmony in the ant world, Dr Liebig explained.

"The idea that social harmony is dependent on strict systems to prevent and punish cheating individuals seems to apply to most successful societies," he said.


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