In the world of insects, every little crawler has a function for the benefit and survival of the colony, especially ants. Ant colonies have workers that forage for food and soldiers that defend the queen and colony, and for a specific type of colony found in Africa, there’s another role certain ants play – paramedic.
It’s uncommon to see ants, being the instinctual creatures they are, show characteristics of empathy and heroism. Their actions are tactical with some even going to extreme lengths of sacrificing themselves for the greater good of the colony. In Africa, the matabele ant (Megaponera analis) is quite the unusual species and puts its neck out to save as many fellow ants as possible.
Often in battles with termites, their favorite prey, these ants can rack up quite the casualties when they invade an unsuspecting mound. Rather than leave wounded ants on the battlefield, a new study has uncovered that the other ants carry them to safety. Scientists have never seen this activity in other ant species and deduce that by rescuing their fallen comrades to fight another day, they effectively bolster their numbers to participate in future raids. By saving wounded ants, the colony’s numbers drastically increase since they do not leave the injured ants unattended. Talk about no ant left behind!
“Watch Ants Carry Wounded Off Battlefield—Never Before Seen” National Geographic