Monday 24 July 2017

Ant image wins science competition

Asian weaver ant picture has won first prize in the science photography exhibition
Asian weaver ant picture has won first prize in the science photography exhibition

An extraordinary picture of an ant carrying 100 times its own body weight has scooped first prize in a science photography competition, it has emerged.

The image shows an Asian weaver ant hanging upside down on a glass-like surface and holding a 500 mg weight in its jaws.

It was captured by Dr Thomas Endlein of Zoology department at the University of Cambridge who was investigating the sticky feet of ants and other insects.

"Ants can change the size and shape of the pads on their feet depending on the load they are carrying," said Dr Endlein.

"If they have to carry heavy loads they increase the contact area, and when they need to run they decrease it."

Dr Endlein added that as well as shedding light on ants' seemingly gravity-defying feats, the research could help scientists develop better glues.

"The pads on ants' feet are self-cleaning and can stick to almost any type of surface," he said.

"No man-made glue or adhesive system can match this. Understanding how animals can control their adhesive systems should help us come up with clever adhesives in the future."

The image won first prize in the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council science photo competition.

Dr Endlein won £700 of vouchers for photographic equipment.

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