Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ants' Berry Red Behinds

Scientists were in Central and South America, studying a species of ant that is capable of short mid-air flights when they discovered something they had not expected: a parasite that causes the ants' behinds to turn into plump, bright red, "berries."

This is the first known discovery of a parasite that mimics fruit. Presumably, it tricks foraging birds into eating the bothersome insects. However, initial research indicates that the parasite is most likely spread by the birds' feces, meaning the parasite may actually have some kind of symbiotic relationship with the birds, making the insects easier to detect. The reports do not indicate whether or not ants are (intentionally) a part of the birds' diet, but it's just a theory.

You can see a photo gallery of transformed ants by visiting National Geographic.

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