[ExI] super soldier ants

spike spike66 at att.net
Mon Jan 9 22:47:36 UTC 2012



From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org
[mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Kasey Anderson
Sent: Monday, January 09, 2012 1:33 PM
To: ExI chat list
Subject: Re: [ExI] super soldier ants


>.Dang it, I've been deemed sane?  That puts a real dent in my reputation.


Hey, it happens to all of us eventually.


>.I'm not saying setting giant ants on slugs wouldn't be fun to try.


I tried it already.  More on that below.


>.  You provide an interesting perspective on the idea that slugs wouldn't
be able to adapt to the ants with a goo layer.


On closer inspection of an actual slug, I was wrong in my initial
assumption.  The spotted garden slug is not defended by any kind of
ant-B-gon goo layer.  Read on please.


>.  However, it doesn't necessarily mean that nature won't find another way
around the problem.


I think so.  Read on.


>.  One possible adaptation, for instance, is that the slugs would simply
become bigger over time, making it more difficult for the ants to prey on


Nein, me lass.  As the slug increases in scale, the volume of tissue
increases as the cube, but the critical surface area increases as the
square.  So a Jaba the Hutt sized slug would be impossible: he couldn't


>.  This however might slow the slugs down as well.


Ja.  When you think about it, you don't see any skin breathers ever get
really big.  Dragon flies can get huge, but their actual mass is relatively
small.  When you get much bigger than a banana slug, some other respiration
mechanism is called for, such as lungs.


>.  Without experimentation, however, it'd be really impossible to tell.


Being able to create enormous slugs would be cool.  Perhaps we could figure
out how to make them carnivorous, and prey on the other slugs?  That would
make for a delightfully revolting.


>.Providing nothing really horrifying happened during testing.


Heck those are the most fun experiments.  


>. we've been using antibiotics for years and they have most assuredly
proved useful despite the fact that bacteria are finding ways to resist our


Ja, but actually we are talking about two different things.  Slugs have a
life cycle in months, whereas bacteria lifecycle is in tens of hours.



>.I do wonder with the whole earthworm issue whether there are species of
ants that eat slugs and not earthworms, though.  It seems like the
researchers' genetic manipulation is widespread to a large variety of ants.
Maybe we should write them a letter and ask them what they'd recommend. ;)


Here's what I did.  I know that ants will devour earthworms, at least under
some special conditions.  I am not sure I understand those conditions.  But
I did find a slug this morning and put it next to the ants.  They didn't
seem to even notice it was there.  They made no attempt to devour the
sluggish beast.  During that experiment I observed that I was mistaken about
the slug being protected by a goo layer.  It isn't.  There is some other
mechanism at play here.


More later,




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