Anthill Metropolis Filled With Cement and Excavated (Video)

Unbelievable video from the show Ants! Nature’s Secret Power. Cement is poured into a gigantic ant colony (we’re talking 538 sq.feet across!) and allowed to dry for a month. The anthill is then excavated to reveal the ants’ monstrous metropolis.

The complexity of the thing is incredible. Not only are the tunnels branched, interconnected, intertwined in a way that reminds me of Giger — but they even utilize compost heaps to power ventilation throughout the colony.

Now, if only I could create intelligent agents that collectively create structures like these. One of my independent research projects involves a simulation of agents modeled after natural insects. I’m able to have their cognitive faculties evolve to produce different levels of creativity — but it’s creative planning & problem solving without any kind of physical construction work. Getting them to architect hives like the above would be awesome.

Seriously, how the hell did they happen upon utilizing compost heaps as motors for ventilation?! So simple creatures, such mind-bending complexity.

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5 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. That’s pretty cool. My only real gripe with it is that.. well, kinda’ sucks for the ant colony that did all the work, doesn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, I realize they’re ants and most people don’t worry too much about ants’ rights, but it would’ve been cool if they could have figured out the layout of the tunnel system without killing the thousands (millions?) of ants down below. All that work just to have it filled up with cement. :)

  2. Well. It would kind of depend on whether they have any sense of self-awareness, wouldn’t it? (which, in terms of more advanced animals, they don’t). If you’re not aware that you exist and that you’re an ant in a colony — do you mind that it’s gone?

    We could try to look at it from the pain point, too: What does pain feel like if you’re not aware that it’s inflicting you?

    But even so, I agree it would’ve been smoother if they could’ve figured it out without the cement. In the future, Josh, we’ll be able to simulate them instead. In the future.

  3. it’s been a while since i’ve wrote anything on this site, even though I’ve been keeping close watch. This article has sparked my interest once again in the sense that I find it incredible that such tiny creatures, collectively can manage to stay alive.

    my theory of creativity comes back is closely interconnected with nature and the theory of evolution. the purpose of life for these ants is to stay alive, to find ways to work together, to build and expand as a collective master mind implementing division of labor.

    I believe that with large numbers and time, any living thing in this world will evolve to accomplish whatever it takes in order to fullfill their needs, weather it’s building sky scrapers, airplanes, or on a more personal level such as getting an education, and a good job.

  4. Hrafn

    Hey Yang! Great to hear that the article sparked an interest. It truly is amazing when we drop our anthropocentric perspective of the world.

  5. The video now says that the colony was abandoned before the researchers poured the cement. No harm done.

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