These Ant Paramedics Save Their Injured Comrades

These Ant Paramedics Save Their Injured Comrades


♪Intro♪ If you’re ever seriously hurt, you can probably
go to a hospital and get help. But animals don’t have doctors. If they’re injured, wounds can get infected
pretty quickly or mean impending doom. Except… that might not necessarily be true
for one species of ant. In a paper published this week, researchers
from Germany have discovered that the African Matabele ants tend to each other’s open
wounds after vicious battles with termites. And they think it’s the first time a behavior
like this has ever been observed in insects. Two to four times every day, Matabele ants
hunt termites. A scout ant finds a vulnerable nest of termites
and then leads a raiding party back to it. But termites have powerful jaws, called mandibles,
so these raids are pretty dangerous for the ants. They often end up with one or more of their
six legs bitten off. Scientists already knew that these wounded
ants secrete pheromones from glands in their mandibles that act as calls for help, attracting
their friends to carry them home. And now, thanks to a combination of lab and
field experiments, we also know what happens next. Very badly injured ants — who have lost
almost all of their limbs — are left behind, because they thrash around so much that helper
ants can’t carry them. Ants that are less badly injured — like
if they’re missing one or two legs — keep still, cooperate with their rescuers, and
are more likely to be carried back. This keeps resources from being wasted on
lost causes. Once an injured ant gets home, other ants
lick their wounds for several minutes. Ants don’t really have tongues, but they
carefully clean the injuries with their mouthparts. According to these experiments, ants that
lose limbs and don’t receive this treatment have about an 80% chance of dying. But with the licking, that number drops to
10%. The researchers think this treatment helps
reduce the chance of infection in open wounds, removing dirt and debris that could carry
pathogens. And while this hasn’t been tested yet, it’s
possible the ants could be applying some sort of antimicrobial substance as well. Once they heal up, ants that still have four
or five legs left can get around just fine and contribute to the colony. So this treatment isn’t just out of the
goodness of their hearts — it’s a useful adaptation. Those wounded veterans are still expected
to earn their keep. Ant medicine may be full of surprises, but
we’re still learning a lot about human medicine, too. And a study published in the journal Science
this month gleaned some new insight into brain disorders. Many medical conditions can be diagnosed based
on physical signs, like a rash or a tumor. But psychiatric conditions are different. Doctors can’t spot them on a brain scan;
they have to be diagnosed based on feelings and behaviors. We know that certain gene variations are linked
to risks for certain psychiatric disorders, but that part of biology involves a lot of
questions, and not very many answers. All of your cells have the same DNA, so sequencing
your genome can reveal what gene variants you have. But analyzing all the RNA in a cell, which
is called a transcriptome, actually shows which genes are being expressed. That’s because the information stored in
DNA is decoded into RNA to make all the different proteins our bodies need. Cells in different organs need different proteins,
and therefore different active genes, to do their jobs. But other things, like environments you’ve
been exposed to, could affect gene expression too — including genes in brain cells, where
tiny chemical changes can affect how you think, feel, and act. This new study combined data from nine previous
studies to form a meta-analysis of 700 brain tissue samples from deceased people. Specifically, the researchers were looking
at RNA in cerebral cortex tissue — the surface structure in the brain that’s involved in
a lot of information processing and decision making. The tissue samples came from patients with
autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and alcoholism, and some brains of people
without any diagnosed disorders for comparison. Using a lot of math, the scientists used all
this transcriptome data to look for patterns of gene expression. These are all different disorders with different
symptoms, so it would make sense to think that their causes and effects in brain cells
would vary, as well. But learning if and how these conditions overlap
might give scientists new hints about how to help these patients. And some patterns the researchers found caught
them by surprise. For instance, bipolar disorder and depression
were fairly distinct, even though they’re both considered mood disorders and share some
symptoms. Alcoholism also had basically no overlap with
any of these other disorders, despite previous studies that suggested that alcoholism and
depression might share some genetic risk factors. Schizophrenia and autism, on the other hand,
showed some similarities. With both disorders, patients seemed to express
fewer genes for communication between neurons and more genes related to inflammation. And inflammation-related genes were extra
active in the autism brain samples, adding to evidence that gene overexpression could
play a role in that condition. There are other small results too, but no
huge takeaways yet. Mostly, this study is another step toward
learning how brain functions can go wrong. Transcriptome research won’t actually help
with diagnoses and treatments until we do a lot more of it, and on more specific parts
of human brains. But by gradually learning about how psychiatric
disorders might affect brains biologically, researchers hope to develop more effective
treatments someday. Thanks for joining me for SciShow News, and
a special thanks to Patreon President of Space Matthew Brant. Without Matthew and all of our patrons on
Patreons, we wouldn’t be able to make SciShow and bring you all up to date science news. ♪Outro♪

100 thoughts on “These Ant Paramedics Save Their Injured Comrades”

  1. I was helping someone research historical views of autism last year and learned that people used to consider autism to be a form of schizophrenia. So it doesn't fully surprise me that this research would find similarities, though I would have thought that alcoholism and depression would be more similar.

    Ant triage makes me smile.

  2. This made me think…why don’t we offer sex therapy to people who have missing or inoperative limbs???? Humans are sexual beings who need sex for overall mental health. Health insurance should cover this.

  3. I cant remember if its this Ant but I read somewhere that the reason that the ants with 1 or 2 legs left thrash around so much because they don't want the colony to waste resources on them since they're pretty much dead.

  4. Wowwwww i searched for this after watching and ant try to save his friend last night . It' was sooo sad. It's really opened my eyes to how most humans value our feelings first. All species are very similar to us in many ways they just speak a different language. I know it's complicated and we can't save everything and everyone but we definitely need to be more conscious and respectful of all living things and stop acting like our planet and everything in it is ours for the taking.

  5. Ants: LETS WIN THIS WAR!
    Humans: lol look ants.
    Humans: flicks ant
    Injured Ant: AHHH! MEDIC!!
    Medic Ant: IM COMING!

  6. I love you and your show, but please , why is your text on screen of varying word sizes and colors? It all ways makes it harder to read. I personally would just highlight, underline, or bold important text, words, or phrases.

  7. Psychopaths serve to bring the arrogant human species back to the natural state of pure survival: they won't let any goodie two-shoes spread their "transcendence" to other goodie two-shoes and ruin the selfish, senseless and shallow order of nature.

  8. If these ants can clot other ants limbs then why don't we just harvest that element from them to help us with missing limbs. It would be a lot of work to get enough for on person but it would be great if it worked

  9. You see an army of ants attacking termites and get closer to see
    You hear noises coming from the battle
    You get closer
    You faintly hear thousands of different ants screaming,
    "MEDIC!"
    "MEDIC!"
    "MEDIC!"
    "MEDIC!"
    "MEDIC!"
    You see one doctor ant, flailing around wildly and trying to get everywhere back home safe

  10. Imagine a human soldier loses a leg in battle, calls for help, but trashes on the ground like a wiggling worm with salts.

  11. I thought those Ants that have lost most of their limbs thrash around consciously because they know they are useless for the colony

  12. Like if I can have My autism cured I can actually be able to drive hold down a high pain job and actually probably get laid I have a social skill disorder I just don’t know how to talk to women except my mother

  13. I saw that the other day when I killed some ants all of a sudden more came and saw one carrying another one 😳

  14. Maybe ants that are thrashing and not getting help from other ants because they lost too many legs are left because the rescue ants know they would be useless to the colony unlike the ones missing one? Btw, what does second part of video have to do with ants agaib???

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