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Like people, ants are often at war. The matabele ant, a small black species native to sub-Saharan Africa, often clashes with its favorite food—termites.
Each time hungry ants crack open a termite mound and dive down into its shadowy depths, they risk dying in battle with their potential prey. (Read how how termites build their huge structures.)
But a new study reveals the ants have a never-before-seen strategy that helps the colony weather wartime casualties. Unlike all other ants, Megaponera analis soldiers carry their injured comrades home.
While this may seem like a small courtesy to the individuals being rescued, these tiny heroics add up, says study leader Erik T. Frank, a myrmecologist at the University Würzburg in Germany.