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These ‘silver’ ants use special hairs to survive the harshest desert heat

Published in the Washington Post by Elahe Izadi

– excerpt –

Saharan silver ants don’t have an easy life, even by ant standards. In order to avoid predators, they have to look for food during the hottest time of the day — when desert surface temperatures can reach 158 degrees Fahrenheit.

That’s almost too hot to live. The ants perish if their internal temperature goes higher than just 128.48 degrees Fahrenheit. But these little guys have developed an ingenious method for keeping themselves cool: It’s all about the hair, basically.

Researchers discovered that the unique structure and organization of the ants’ hair allow the creatures to control a wide range of the solar spectrum and keep cool. They published their findings Thursday in the journal Science.

To the naked human eye, these ants can resemble droplets of mercury as they scamper across the desert sand, said Nanfang Yu, assistant professor of applied physics at Columbia Engineering.

Read article on the Washington Post website

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