AntWeb

casent0103190_p_1For someone as obsessed about insects as I seem to be, the AntWeb project (http://www.antweb.org) is a fascinating collection of information and photographs. The idea is to catalogue all 12,000 species of ants around the world, gleaned from museum collections and captured using innovative photography techniques to get the best possible resolutions (the image included here is not the highest resolution). I was first alerted to this site by a piece on it by the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/12880498) which includes a selection of these photographs, but they are so stunning you can’t help but peruse the current collection. The “About” section of the website captures how fascinating these creatures are quite well:

At this moment, more than one thousand trillion ants are scurrying all over the Earth. If every human climbed aboard one side of a scale, and every ant crawled onto the other side, the scale would just about balance.

Ants are everywhere. They are found under logs, in trees, in the stomachs of frogs, and underground. They use tools, herd and milk other animals, and live in highly organized colonies which can last for hundreds of years.

Ants are incredibly diverse. They can be as small as the point of a pin, or as big as a walnut. They can look as sleek as sports cars, or as bulky as tanks. AntWeb illustrates this diversity by providing information and high quality color images of many of the approximately 10,000 known species of ants. AntWeb currently focuses on the species of the Nearctic and Malagasy biogeographic regions, and the ant genera of the world. Over time, the site will grow to describe every species of ant known.

UPDATE 12th June 2012: the BBC ran an upated story on this http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/18368213

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Dave

Mathematician at the University of Warwick in the UK with research interests in equivariant bifurcation theory and applications, especially in modelling of insect locomotion. Teaching interests include online learning and innovative teaching methods. Also occasionally creates material for the University's "International Gateway for Gifted Youth". He has been active on the Internet since 1995, initially though his UFO and Michael Schenker website, but now through a multitude of projects.

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