Researchers observe ants giving medical assistance to their injured comrades 

Researchers from Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany recently made the astounding discovery that ants come to the aid of their injured comrades, taking the necessary steps to help them heal. 

The behavior was observed among the African Matabele variety living throughout much of Sub-Saharan Africa.  

Those that go hunting for food every day take big risks as they prey on termites. Battles often ensue, and injuries follow. 

The team found that while ants who are injured beyond hope of recovery are left on the battlefield, the ones that can be saved are picked up and carried back to the nest. 

 

Once home and out of harm’s way, the healthy ants lick the wounds of the hurt, typically doing so for a number of minutes. 

“We suppose that they do this to clean the wounds and maybe even apply antimicrobial substances with their saliva to reduce the risk of bacterial or fungal infection,” Erik T. Frank, one of the researchers, notes.

The means is generally successful.

According to a release about the findings, “Without such attendance, 80 percent of the injured ants die; after receiving ‘medical’ treatment, only 10 percent succumb to their injuries.” 

The researchers plan to further investigate a number of the questions. They include how the wound is identified and what factors determine treatment durations.

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Ant hunting in Singapore
Denise Ong, 20, looks for ants at an underpass near the central business district in Singapore, May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Eric Tan lifts his son Leland, 14, as they try to catch queen ants at a public housing estate in Singapore, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A woman checks her test tube after catching a queen ant at a public housing estate in Singapore, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Denise Ong, 20, checks her test tube after catching an ant near the central business district in Singapore, May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A close up of a Carebara Diversa queen ant in Singapore, May 12, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Dave Thong, 20, looks at a trail of ants at a park in Singapore, May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Denise Ong, 20, catches ants with a test tube on a pedestrian bridge near the central business district in Singapore, May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Ignatius Low, 13, and his mother Margaret Wong look for queen ants at a public housing estate in Singapore, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
People check walls for ants at a public housing estate in Singapore, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
People shine torch lights to check wall surfaces for ants at a public housing estate in Singapore, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Ignatius Low, 13, and his mother Margaret Wong look for queen ants at a public housing estate in Singapore, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Denise Ong, 20, checks lamps for ants as joggers run past in Singapore, May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Dave Thong, 20, looks for ants attracted to the light near a vending machine in Singapore, May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
People catch ants with a test tube at a public housing estate in Singapore, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A view of ant larvae and ants feeding on honey, belonging to an enthusiast who rented a house to keep his ants, in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, April 19, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Chris Chan, an ant collector, holds up a queen ant at a house he rented to keep his ants in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, April 19, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A view of a formicarium or ant farm, belonging to an enthusiast who rented a house to keep his ants, in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, April 19, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Dave Thong, 20, looks for ants that are attracted to lights at a park in Singapore, May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Dave Thong, 20, looks for ants in a public toilet at a park in Singapore, May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
An ant catcher shows the containers he uses for catching ants at a public housing estate in Singapore, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A curious resident looks at ants caught by a group of enthusiasts at a public housing estate in Singapore, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su SEARCH "SU ANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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