Tuesday, November 24, 2009

92 Million Year Old Farming

Science Daily: Ants Use Bacteria to Make Their Gardens Grow.

ScienceDaily (Nov. 24, 2009) — Leaf-cutter ants, which cultivate fungus for food, have many remarkable qualities.

Here's a new one to add to the list: the ant farmers, like their human counterparts, depend on nitrogen-fixing bacteria to make their gardens grow. The finding, reported Nov. 20 in the journal Science, documents a previously unknown symbiosis between ants and bacteria and provides insight into how leaf-cutter ants have come to dominate the American tropics and subtropics.

What's more, the work, conducted by a team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison bacteriologist Cameron Currie, identifies what is likely the primary source of terrestrial nitrogen in the tropics, a setting where nutrients are otherwise scarce.

"Nitrogen is a limiting resource," says Garret Suen, a UW-Madison postdoctoral fellow and a co-author of the new study. "If you don't have it, you can't survive."

Indeed, the partnership between ant and microbe permits leaf-cutters to be amazingly successful. Their underground nests, some the size of small houses, can harbor millions of inhabitants. In the Amazon forest they comprise four times more biomass than do all land animals combined.
The New York Times: Fossil Shows Ants Evolved Much Earlier Than Thought

Researchers have found seven ants in amber that are among the oldest ever found, making it clear that what may be the world's most populous terrestrial creatures were underfoot and already diversifying when dinosaurs trod the earth.

A team from the American Museum of Natural History, led by Dr. David Grimaldi, curator of entomology, found seven ants that were about 92 million years old when they excavated a muddy site in New Jersey that is rich in amber, the researchers reported today in the journal Nature. The ants are of four species.


Jeffery Keown said...

While I find both articles to be enlightening, I find it to be a bit of a stretch to suggest that ants were already actively farming 92 million years ago.

But, any post by you that doesn't feature Alien Bastard Jesus (TM) is okay in my book.

KV said...


Look up Symbiosis, part of evolution.

OilIsMastery said...


Look up "earlier than thought."

Now we have two fossil animals in the wrong geological stratum.

And that contradicts evolution.

"...Evolution makes the strong prediction that if a single fossil turned up in the wrong geological stratum, the theory would be blown out of the water. When challenged by a zealous Popperian to say how evolution could ever be falsified, J.B.S. Haldane famously growled: 'Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian.'" -- Richard Dawkins, biologist, 2006

"Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research programme." -- Karl Popper, philosopher, 1976

KV said...


We are talking about ants, bacteria and fungi.

If Dawkins' observation about geological stratum is wrong, so be it.

Neither Dawkins nor Darwin have said that they are never in error somewhere.

But the creationists are never wrong because they will never produce the creator, and will ask me to believe in it! If I don't, I get labeled!

That is not science.

Anyway, have a happy thanksgiving.

Jeffery Keown said...

Now we have two fossil animals in the wrong geological stratum.

On what basis are you assuming that these ants are in the wrong spot, geologically?

Jeffery Keown said...

Look up "earlier than thought."

What about it? It's still not Rabbits in the Precambrian. It's ants before we thought there were ants. It's not like a fully developed land-going mammal in strata where no land animals are thought to have existed.

This is just more of your flimsy nonsense; repeated over and over like some kind of Denialist Chorus of Misplaced Doubt.

Evolution is an observed, testable fact. The only questions are timing and selection pressure. You do not understand it, and have failed to provide a counter-mechanism aside from Artificial Selection.

In this parody of domestic breeding that you offer:

.:You fail to account for the millions of species that exist and have existed.

.:You fail to explain where the breeders themselves come from. If all speciation is a form of artificial selection, who bred the breeders? It leads to an infinite regression back to the something you describe as the First Cause.

.:A First Cause is illogical and unprovable. Something just caused it to be? Is it uncaused? How is this science?

.:You fail to explain the observed incidences of evolution in the absence of breeders.

.:You should admit that your version of speciation requires an unobservable diety-like being, and that your hypothesis is, in fact, creationism of some sort, be it Christian, Vedic or Vine Deloria's comibinatorial variation thereupon.

In summation: You fail. Your oft-repeated mis-characterization of the Theory of Evolution should be abandoned. I'm open to discussion of any alternate mechanisms you might want to develop.