When an ant dies, other ants move the dead insect out of the nest. Sometimes, the dead ant gets moved away very soon — within an hour of dying. This behavior is interesting to scientists, who wonder how ants know for sure — and so soon — that another ant is dead.
One scientist recently came up with a way to explain this ant behavior. Dong-Hwan Choe is a biologist, a scientist who studies living things, at the University of California, Riverside. Choe found that Argentine ants have a chemical on the outside of their bodies that signals to other ants, “I’m dead — take me away.”
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