Scientists have discovered a million ants trapped in a Soviet-era bunker in Poland that only survived all those years by cannibalizing their dead nestmates.
The cannibal ants were found in the bunker once used to store nuclear weapons that had been sealed off for years, according to a report by Fox News.
The giant nest of ants was first found in 2013. Researchers said the nest was made up entirely of worker ants and no queens or young, newly born ants.
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“Here we show that the ‘colony’ in the bunker survived and grew thanks to an influx of workers from the source nest above the bunker and mass consumption of corpses of the imprisoned nestmates,” the study noted.
The abstract of the study also said that the ants were “imprisoned” in the bunker with no connection to the outside world.
Due to the isolation, researchers said that the ants had no other food source than the bodies of their own fellows.
The ants, identified as wood ants, are known to practice cannibalism in some instances.
“It is known that wood ants consume dead bodies of their conspecifics left in masses on the ground during spectacular ‘ant wars’ early in the season,” the authors of the study wrote. “The function of such wars is to settle the borders of neighboring conspecific colonies, but the corpses also add substantially to the scarce food resources available when the colony lives commence after winter.”
The researchers discovered that the ants inside the bunker originally came from colonies in the soil outside the bunker.
The scientists then transferred some of the ants outside into the isolated colony and found no aggressive behavior against the newcomers.
In the end, the scientists allowed the isolated colony to have access to the outside world, but despite the possibility of freedom, many of the cannibal ants oddly chose to stay in the bunker.
Scientists ultimately discovered that the cannibal ants were Democrats.
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