One of the fastest animals in the world since longof times is considered a cheetah, which in a jerk is able to accelerate to a speed of 120 kilometers per hour. However, if we consider the speed of movement not in the usual kilometers per hour, but in the lengths of the body per unit time, there will be faster creatures on our planet. Given that cheetahs overcome 16 lengths of their body in one second, the so-called silver ants overcome 106 lengths of a tiny body over the same period of time. And this, by the way, is equal to about 660 kilometers per hour. Researchers from the University of Ulm (Germany) were able to find out how ants develop such a crazy speed. The results were published in the journal Experimental Biology.
Silver Ants (Cataglyphis bombycina)live in extremely hot conditions of the Sahara desert. Due to the extremely high air temperature and literally hot sand underfoot, these insects lead a mostly nocturnal lifestyle and feed on animals killed by heat. If you have to crawl out of the shelter during the day, they produce a special type of protein that gives them resistance to temperatures up to 50 degrees Celsius. In addition, in order not to get burned on the hot sand, they raise their bodies as high as possible - good, their long legs allow them to do this.
By the way, the name of this ants is connected withone feature of their body. The fact is that out of the body are covered with tiny silver-colored hairs. They are necessary to reflect the sun's rays - this is vital protection for ants.
The exact speed of the ants wasdesigned by German scientists led by Professor Harald Wolf. Due to the nocturnal lifestyle and the high speed of movement of the ants, they had to work hard to catch them. The work was carried out on the territory of a North African country called Tunisia, which is one of the natural habitats of high-speed ants.
To calculate the speed of their movement, scientistsput them in a special box with cameras with support for shooting with a high frame rate. The study showed that they really develop speeds up to 108 lengths of their own body per second. This is an amazing indicator, but, unfortunately, it is impossible to consider silver ants the fastest creatures on Earth. Californian ticks (Paratarsotomus macropalpis) at least 377 body lengths per second move faster than ants.
Slow motion showed that silverants develop high speeds thanks to the crazy frequency of steps. If the researchers' calculations are correct, then in one second the ants take 47 steps per second, and each step is done by three limbs at once. Scientists believe that such a hasty step with excellent synchronization of the limbs is associated with the harsh conditions in which insects live - fast movement prevents them from falling into the loose sand and simply not getting burned about it.
If you are interested in science and technology news, subscribe to our Yandex.Zen channel.
It is noteworthy that in cold conditions the speedsilver ants drops noticeably. When the researchers conducted the experiment not in Africa, but in their native Germany, the ants moved much more slowly. This once again proves that high speed of movement is associated with extreme living conditions.