Ants show no sign of aging

  • 2016-02-03
  • Wired

No matter how many expensive face creams you buy or complex workout routines you suffer through, there's no way to stop the endless, onward march of time ravaging your body and mind. That is, if you're human; a new study has found that some ants show no signs of age-related decline before they die.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, found that minor workers of the ant Pheidole dentata, which live for up to 140 days in a laboratory environment, showed absolutely no signs of ageing before they expired.

Hundreds of ants were examined as they went about their daily tasks -- caring for larvae, following pheromone trails and scavenging dead insects. They were then carefully observed for phenomena similar to human ageing -- cell death in the brain, lower levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and poorer performance on daily tasks. Results showed that the ants were not susceptible to any of these phenomena. They lived, to the fullest, and then died.

"We knew that worker ants start out in life not being terribly good at things, but then they acquire behaviour and expand their repertoires," said James Traniello, co-author of the study. "We expected that there would be a normal curve for these kinds of functions -- they'd improve, they'd peak and then they'd decline."