Friday, April 17, 2009

No boys allowed in this ant colony.

(Photo from Nat'l Geographic)

Mycocepurus smithii is a species of leaf-cutter ant in which there are no found males. They reproduce using parthenogenesis: the queen lays unfertilized eggs which are simply clones of herself. (This is a common mode of reproduction among walking sticks, some of my very favorite bugs. There are some species of walking sticks that have missing males as well.) But back to the ants: these ladies have even evolved over time such that their mating parts have started to disappear. So even if there are boys somewhere, it could be that they wouldn't even be able to mate. Although, in that, case there surely wouldn't be any males at all, since parthenogenesis produces only females.

Pretty cool.

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