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Surprising Science

The Real Ant Farms

New research indicates that New World ants, who fastidiously cultivate crops in their underground lairs for food, have updated the crops they grow over time.

“Approximately 50 million years ago, some Amazonian ant species discovered that raising fungi could provide a more stable food source than just foraging on the rainforest floor. Thus, they became farmers. Now, more than 200 species of New World ants cultivate crops, fastidiously fertilizing, cleaning, and weeding delicate white fungal filaments in their underground lairs. And, like human farmers who exchanged ancient emmer wheat for modern varieties, these ants have updated the crops they grow over time, according to new research.”


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