CT scanner captures images of ant excavations

Researchers at the University of Bristol(Bristol, UK) are using a CT scanner to capture images that show how ants build their nests over time.

CT scanner captures images of ant excavations
CT scanner captures images of ant excavations

Researchers at the University of Bristol (Bristol, UK) are using a CT scanner to capture images that show how ants build their nests over time.

Geologist Dr. Nicholas Minter, archaeologist Dr. Kate Robson Brown and biologist Professor Nigel Franks used high-resolution CT scanning to obtain repeated three-dimensional images of ant nests throughout their excavation.

Previous research on ant nests involved making plaster casts, but such methods are destructive. By using CT scanning, the new study avoided any destruction and also allowed the researchers to scan the same nest on multiple occasions, thus making it possible to observe the individual nest as it was being built.

Robson Brown said that the results showed that excavation is controlled by the density of ants and is also influenced by the structure of the sediment through which they tunnel.

The findings of the research, which was funded by the Leverhulme Trust, were published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

-- By Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design

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