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Cloning In The Animal Kingdom

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the beware-the-swarm dept.

Science 123

tanveer1979 writes "The New Scientist is carrying an interesting article on cloning in nature." From the article: "The ant Wasmannia Auropunctata, which is native to Central and South America but has spread into the US and beyond, has opted for a unique stand-off in the battle of the sexes. Both queens and males reproduce by making genetically identical copies of themselves - so males and females seem to have entirely separate gene pools. Conventional reproduction happens only to produce workers. This is the first instance in the animal kingdom where males reproduce exclusively by cloning, though male honeybees do it occasionally." National Geographic is also carrying the story.

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123 comments

Attack of the Clones! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12974716)

I for one welcome our new ant-cloning Wasmannia Auropunctata overlords!

Well then (1, Flamebait)

Mad Merlin (837387) | about 9 years ago | (#12974727)

Does this mean that Bush will have to declare war on this "Wasmannia Auropunctata" too? Or is that just for oil?

Re: Well then (0, Troll)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 9 years ago | (#12974745)


> Does this mean that Bush will have to declare war on this "Wasmannia Auropunctata" too?

Surely he would applaud cloning workers, since it would increase consumption and drive down wages. Though he'd probably want them exempted from minimum wage laws.

Re:Well then (1)

madaxe42 (690151) | about 9 years ago | (#12974748)

Ant oil! Get your ant oil!

cloning uncommon? (4, Interesting)

evenprime (324363) | about 9 years ago | (#12974730)

Conventional reproduction happens only to produce workers.

But aren't most of the ants in a colony workers?

Re:cloning uncommon? (2, Interesting)

Mad Merlin (837387) | about 9 years ago | (#12974749)

But aren't most of the ants in a colony workers?

One would think so, perhaps these ants aren't like the other ants in this respect too?

Re:cloning uncommon? (4, Interesting)

ZosX (517789) | about 9 years ago | (#12974758)

That is correct. They are also sterile too AFAIK. I believe that the workers are by definition female, but incapable of reproducing. The male ants really only exist to mate with the queen to create more female workers. I'm sure they have some other small functions, but not much else. In the event of a queen dying in a bee's nest, I believe that the male bees have a way of producing another female queen, but I forget how it works. (Its been years since I read about bees)

Bees and ants are some of the most fascinating creatures on the planet in a lot of ways. They almost seem to posess a collective conscious and part of that is the ability for them to communicate with each other in a rapid efficient manner.

Basically the queen in a nest of either species exists mostly to reproduce. Everything else exists to support that. The workers take care of and feed their larvae young. Ever see ants carrying little white things that look like rice? That is them moving their larvae about. The nests they build are amazingly well developed. Ditto for bees.

If you ever get a chance you should search google for bits of info on the supercolony of ants that has pretty much migrated across huge swaths of europe. It seems that the colony is completely interconnected as the ants all cooperate. In a lot of ways, it is the Borg of ant colonies.

Bugs are weird. Lets hope they never start hating humans. We'd lose really quick.

Re:cloning uncommon? (1)

syukton (256348) | about 9 years ago | (#12974774)

Bugs are weird. Lets hope they never start hating humans. We'd lose really quick.


I've got some napalm here that would suggest otherwise.

Re:cloning uncommon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12975369)

Well, you just go and try your napalm on those African locusts and come back to tell us how it went.

Re:cloning uncommon? (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 9 years ago | (#12975550)

Fire ants eat napalm. OK, they don't but there isn't enough napalm to get all the ants, though it would destroy the rest of the environment we need to live. The sick fact about bugs is that we need them more than they need us.

Re:cloning uncommon? (1)

syukton (256348) | about 9 years ago | (#12976057)

We don't need one another (humans and ants). Technology can and will replace everything in our lives which comes with annoying side effects.

Re:cloning uncommon? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 9 years ago | (#12976120)

Like too many geeks?

Re:cloning uncommon? (2, Interesting)

Troed (102527) | about 9 years ago | (#12974776)

I think you'd be interested in Coalescent: Homo Superior [amazon.co.uk] if you haven't already read it of course.

Human hives possible?

Human hives are already here.... (5, Interesting)

ZosX (517789) | about 9 years ago | (#12974839)

In a lot of ways I think that the above is true. However, I don't really know if the hive mentality would ever really truly fit for humans though as they tend to show many more tendancies towards the herd or the pack mentality. Once you start thinking of most humans as sheep, the world starts making more sense and starts becoming a lot more depressing. Face it. People just don't want to think about the world and what is going on in it. I know that there are exceptions, but most people do not want the responsibility that comes with knowledge of their world and are much more content sitting in the comfort of their low crime cookie-cutter suburb watching network television than worrying about all hte really terrible things that are happening to people all over the globe.

Hell, if people would just start thinking of how much freaking garbage they produce on a weekly basis and the big fucking hole in the woods that someone dug and lined with plastic to dump it all...oh hell, what's the fucking use?

No wonder people get depressed.

Hellstrom's Hive... (2, Interesting)

infonography (566403) | about 9 years ago | (#12974996)

Hellstrom's Hive by Frank Herbert (1973) [wikipedia.org] A book I read a many years back about a secret colony of humans living along Social Insect lines. Most disturbing bit as about a grinder that the 'Colonists' would walk into freely upon orders if they were found wanting. Much of the story centers around the Nature Vs Nurture theory.

When people start Cloning Britney Spears as a marketable commodity will the clones turn out to be the same sort of strumpet? I would guess that that would be what they would want anyway.

Re:Hellstrom's Hive... (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 9 years ago | (#12975199)

Ask Fry about his Lucy Lu collection.

Re:Human hives are already here.... (1)

Razor Sex (561796) | about 9 years ago | (#12976005)

Check out Stephen Baxter's Coalescent as well.

Re:cloning uncommon? (4, Informative)

h4rm0ny (722443) | about 9 years ago | (#12974807)


I googled for it as you suggested. And now I'm going to have nightmares for a month.

The link is here. [bbc.co.uk] It also contains a link to an article on the Fire Ants that attacked Australia.

Re:cloning uncommon? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 9 years ago | (#12974947)

Great. So you're going to have nightmares, and then you share the link? At least you warned us, I'll give you that much.

Re:cloning uncommon? (1)

ikkonoishi (674762) | about 9 years ago | (#12975242)

Its the new Goatse

Re:cloning uncommon? (1)

Max_Wells_SH (863873) | about 9 years ago | (#12975473)

The supercolony itself also has a rival - a second, smaller supergroup of Argentine ants holds sway in the Catalan region of Spain. These creatures are more than happy to make war.

Franco's been dead for thirty years, you silly ants! Can't our supercolonies all just get along?

Re:cloning uncommon? (1)

Seenhere (90736) | about 9 years ago | (#12975564)

It's not just Europe. Those "Argentinian ants" (Linepithema humile) are taking over the planet! Or so it seems. Have a look at the Global Invasive Species database: http://www.issg.org/database/species/distribution. asp?si=127&fr=1&sts= [issg.org]


Around where I live (coastal California) I don't think there are any other kinds of ants anymore.

--Seen

Re:cloning uncommon? (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | about 9 years ago | (#12976351)

Good heavens, fire ants are terrible! I'm from Texas, and there is no greater pestilence than fire ants there.

Incidentally, you remember the Super Conducting Super Collider project that congress cut funding from in the 90s? Well, it was to be in Texas, and they had already built a lot of the tunnels for the collider. Then, when congress pulled funding, one of the reasons listed in their official report (or so I've heard) was that fire ants are attracted to electricity (which they are, I have an anecdote about that if you like) and had already moved into the tunnels.

Rice (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12974846)

Ever see ants carrying little white things that look like rice? That is them moving their larvae about.

Oh shit! I thought they were stealing rice from my kitchen, so I stole it back and later used it to make stir fry. *gag*

Re:cloning uncommon? (1)

FFFish (7567) | about 9 years ago | (#12975561)

"Basically the queen in a nest of either species exists mostly to reproduce. Everything else exists to support that."

That's the same for all species. vis a vis Dave Chappelle's comments re: hot cars and tittyflashes.

Everything exists to propagate the message in DNA.

Re:cloning uncommon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12974763)

But aren't most of the ants in a colony workers?

Yes, but the workers themselves don't reproduce at all, so combinations arrived at through sexual reproduction aren't passed on to later generations.

Of course, the cloning system itself is bound to be imperfect; mutations should still occur and consequently evolution will take place.

To answer your question further.... (2, Interesting)

ZosX (517789) | about 9 years ago | (#12974779)

The queen also can produce both males and potentially other queens. In bees, when another queen is hatched and matured it will likely challenge the existing queen and the winner will continue the hive. Survival of the fittest indeed. I'd imagine it works similarily with ants. The queen is usually the key because she makes all the other ants. What is different here is that the queen is cloning herself and so are the males, that is, if they can prove this theory. Perhaps the fireants are evolving into a super colony themselves.

Re:cloning uncommon? (1)

Al Mutasim (831844) | about 9 years ago | (#12974795)

Most of the ants in a colony are workers. But workers are a dead end for genes. Only the males and queens pass their genetic material to future colonies. The remarkable part about this finding is that for this one species (or is it two?), new males have only the father's genes and new females (queens) have only the mother's genes. Workers have a mix. This is different from the typical case for other ants and other animals, where the parent genes are mixed to produce both male and female offspring.

God forbid . . . (1, Flamebait)

Yocto Yotta (840665) | about 9 years ago | (#12974734)

You'd think if the animal's can do it, we'd be allowed too. I say this is lovely fuel for the fire.

Re:God forbid . . . (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 9 years ago | (#12974778)

Animals also eat each other. Shall we start with you?

Poached or broiled?

Re:Bid for Dog . . . (1)

Winkhorst (743546) | about 9 years ago | (#12974937)

And which animals would those be?

Re:God forbid . . . (1)

taskforce (866056) | about 9 years ago | (#12974964)

I eat animals as well ^_____^ Am I going to hell?

Re:God forbid . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12974870)

Many animals care for their young. Should we as humans do the same?

Re: Ants in the Pants (5, Funny)

ViX44 (893232) | about 9 years ago | (#12974740)

I find it interesting that they speak as though the male ants had an intelligence that decided to modify its genes as described. I tried changing my genes and it didn't help me run faster, jump higher, or gain the ability to remember where I put my keys. Usually, I don't find those bad boys until I change my jeans.

Re: Ants in the Pants (5, Funny)

jcgf (688310) | about 9 years ago | (#12974796)

I remember back in the '80s we used to modify our jeans with a pair of scissors. That didn't help us run faster, jump higher, or gain the ability to remember where we put our keys either. Oh well 2 down, ininitely many more to go.

Re: Ants in the Pants (1)

PakProtector (115173) | about 9 years ago | (#12974900)

I remember back in the '70s when I tried to Modify my Jean with a pair of scissors. It didn't make her run faster, jump higher, or gain the ability to remember where I put my keys, either.

In fact, all it got me was a release from jail for murder last week.

Re: Ants in the Pants (1)

jcgf (688310) | about 9 years ago | (#12974929)

Man I thought I stole the show with my comment but damn....

Re: Ants in the Pants (2, Informative)

PakProtector (115173) | about 9 years ago | (#12974974)

It's okay. Yours is good. I've just got a great deal more experience at saying outrageous and outrageously stupid things.

I was something of an army brat, and till I was about 14 all my friends were over 60 vets, buddies of my Grandpa.

Of course, I didn't get to polish it up until I was in the JROTC.

Nothing like being 16 and 'talking' your 'supply sergeant' into giving you live ammo for a gun so you and your pals could go down to the shooting range.

High Times.

Does Cloning Help...? (4, Funny)

creimer (824291) | about 9 years ago | (#12974746)

Whether they clone or not doesn't concern me. They are all equal in my eyes when I'm holding the Raid can.

Re:Does Cloning Help...? (1)

Ronald Dumsfeld (723277) | about 9 years ago | (#12974769)

Whether they clone or not doesn't concern me. They are all equal in my eyes when I'm holding the Raid can.
But, being clones, would it not be easier to manufacture something more effective than your can of Raid?

Re:Does Cloning Help...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12975029)

But, being clones, would it not be easier to manufacture something more effective than your can of Raid?

No

Raid (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12974886)

Q: How does the PHB make the IT department's server storage redundant and bug free?

A: He sprays it with Raid.


Lame, I know....

Re:Raid (1)

creimer (824291) | about 9 years ago | (#12975578)

That's assuming you have a PHB who can point the can in the right direction. Still, a Raid solution is better than none. :P

Reproduction through cloning (4, Funny)

Faust7 (314817) | about 9 years ago | (#12974751)

This is the first instance in the animal kingdom where males reproduce exclusively by cloning

Are you kidding? How do you think Slashdotters reproduce?

Re:Reproduction through cloning (1)

jacen_sunstrider (797955) | about 9 years ago | (#12974801)

If Slashdotters reproduced, at some period of time they'd reach a critical mass where first Slashdot, and then the World, would not be able to handle them. In essense, they would first slashdot Slashdot, and then slashdot the earth!!

Re:Reproduction through cloning (1)

user32.ExitWindowsEx (250475) | about 9 years ago | (#12974892)

assimilation?

Re:Reproduction through cloning (3, Funny)

MPHellwig (847067) | about 9 years ago | (#12975058)

"How do you think Slashdotters reproduce?"

There is no way you can have the words: "think", "slashdotters" and "reproduce" in 1 sentence without having at least 1 impossibility.

Yes, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12974753)

I believe I speak for most Slashdot drones when I say, yes, there may be hope for us to spread our genes after all.

Obvious first though from certain "parties" (4, Funny)

sabernet (751826) | about 9 years ago | (#12974768)

They are an afront to Jesus and the holy book and thy sinning, cloning, ants that dare copulate in an unnatural way must be cast down to the lair of Satan.

Re:Obvious first though from certain "parties" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12975009)

is that how they become fire ants?

Re:Obvious first though from certain "parties" (0, Offtopic)

sabernet (751826) | about 9 years ago | (#12975011)

figures, people cracking religious jokes all over the place, but I submit one first and get modded offtopic:/

Honneybees are queer? (1)

TeleoMan (529859) | about 9 years ago | (#12974777)

WTF?

Re:Honneybees are queer? (1)

rsynnott (886713) | about 9 years ago | (#12975337)

No, it didn't say that. It said that the males can, under certain circumstances clone themselves (which is news to me, but seems to be true enough).

nomenclature (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12974784)

One of my pet peeves is how the media in general consistently screws up binomial nomenclature...it's not Wasmannia Auropunctata - the correct form is Wasmannia auropunctata...the genus name is capitalized, the species name is not...ever! Petty? Maybe...but only if you feel that being correct is not important...non-scientists just don't take the time to understand & then blame scientists for not telling them...so consider yourself told. :)

Re:nomenclature (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12975074)

Perhaps it would help if the people editing articles were different than the people posting them. For instance, a certain number of subscribers could volunteer (read: not paid) to be secondary editors - and have a wiki sort of editing, changing "its" and "it's" and certain errors such as the nomenclature, where the editors may not even know it's an error.

Re:nomenclature (1)

jfengel (409917) | about 9 years ago | (#12975097)

Still though... "Wasman's gold-spotted bug". What a wondefully evocative name.

Is that anything like... (1)

ectotherm (842918) | about 9 years ago | (#12974785)

...go FSCK yourself??

Re:Is that anything like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12974842)

Ah...geek humour..very droll.

Re:Is that anything like... (2, Funny)

TheGavster (774657) | about 9 years ago | (#12974911)

Indeed. If your population is replenished only by cloning, its a good idea to run a quick fsck on the samples used for each generation, lest you accidently produce a generation of less than stellar genetic integrity.

Oh, come on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12974789)

There's been a lot of discussion here lately about how Forbes and howstuffworks.com have been providing "articles" that are thinly vieled attempts at promoting movies like Batman and Star Wars. But this attempt at pushing cloning into the limelight on the very same day that FOX is showing Jurassic Park II: The Lost World [fox.com] is just too damn much. I never would have dreamed that National Geographic would sell out like this.

STOP THE INSANITY!

Anti-christ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12974817)

I'm an elite member of the bush administration, and I just want to say those ants will be going to hell for this.

Here in the mechanics' garage... (4, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | about 9 years ago | (#12974847)

"This apparently gave males both the time and the means to evolve a counterattack--converting some of the workers into males."



Huh. Around here, we hang up posters of nekkid queen ants. Oooooh, those unarticulated segements! Kind of makes you want to pupate, doesn't it?

zerg (2, Funny)

Lord Omlette (124579) | about 9 years ago | (#12974852)

Clearly, all ants are going to hell.

I works with insects too! (1)

ratta (760424) | about 9 years ago | (#12974854)

while(1) fork();

Re:I works with insects too! (1)

CyricZ (887944) | about 9 years ago | (#12974925)

Can you please explain your insect joke?

Do you mean that you continually "fork" insects, in that you stick a fork in them and eat them?

Or is that code fragment supposed to resemble a bug in some way? Is the brackets portion of the fork() call supposed to represent the insect's head?

Re:I works with insects too! (1)

b100dian (771163) | about 9 years ago | (#12975294)

while(!fork())

Selfish Women! (2, Funny)

jabex (320163) | about 9 years ago | (#12974894)

From the article:
"'It's a selfish strategy initiated by females [in which] queens transmit 100 percent of their genome,' Fournier said."

Wow, sounds like Fournier is waging his own battle of the sexes. Those selfish females, they want to clone themselves rather than have sex with me!

Re:Selfish Women! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12974912)

Those selfish females, they want to clone themselves rather than have sex with me!

Yah, that sounds about right- you do have low slashdot userver # count, afterall.

Re:Selfish Women! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12974975)

What I really want to know is... Are you Slashdot's first ant fetishist?

small case species (2, Insightful)

xipho (193257) | about 9 years ago | (#12974895)

Its Wasmannia aropunctata not "Wasmannia Auropunctata", the species name is never in caps. No chance in hell the editors would catch that though...

Re:small case species (2, Funny)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 9 years ago | (#12975216)

It's it's not its. See you in hell.

Re:small case species (4, Funny)

lav-chan (815252) | about 9 years ago | (#12975224)

You mispunctuated 'it's', you misspelt 'auropunctata', you forgot a comma before 'not', you used a comma to link two independent clauses, you forgot a comma before 'though', and you didn't end your second sentence (ellipses aren't end punctuation marks, although that's probably arguable). No chance in hell you would catch that, though.

Anyone seen the print edition? (3, Interesting)

Ronald Dumsfeld (723277) | about 9 years ago | (#12974915)

The Nat. Geographic article hints at how this works, basically all the DNA from the female is eliminated from the egg by the male DNA.

The way the submitter, and the New Scientist teaser worded it you were left wondering exactly how the male ants cloned themselves. Little ant laboratories perhaps? Being a matriarchy, I'm sure their government disapproves. :)

Re:Anyone seen the print edition? (1)

blindseer (891256) | about 9 years ago | (#12975689)

I was wondering that too. I thought they had a more liberal definition of "male" than I did. If a "male" could produce an egg it would not truly be a male would it? If the male is somehow capable of clearing an egg from its female DNA then that would mean the offspring is a clone of the male. The way it was worded made it sound like the male was capable of reproducing without the assistance of any female.

Re:Anyone seen the print edition? (4, Informative)

jmauro (32523) | about 9 years ago | (#12975998)

A more in depth explination of the situation is provided on Pharyngula, here [pharyngula.org]

Here come the christians... (4, Funny)

kd5ujz (640580) | about 9 years ago | (#12974917)

But..but..they will not have a soul.

Male? Female? (2, Insightful)

ManoMarks (574691) | about 9 years ago | (#12974954)

Are these classifications really relevant to this species? I'm always amused by the need of scientists to classify species as male and female. Like the Sea Horse, where the "male" gets pregnant. How meaningful is that?

Re:Male? Female? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12974995)

Um, sperm and eggs are pretty distinguishable.

Re:Male? Female? (1)

anakin876 (612770) | about 9 years ago | (#12975033)

one has an X chromosone, the other a Y - this can be a pretty significant difference.

Re:Male? Female? (2, Insightful)

(negative video) (792072) | about 9 years ago | (#12975139)

one has an X chromosone, the other a Y - this can be a pretty significant difference.
Sex determination in ants is by haplodiploidy [wikipedia.org] : females have the full set of double chromosomes, whilst males only have one of each chromosome. The sterile workers get all their father's chromosomes, and half of their mother's chromosomes, which makes them 75% genetically related to each other, and that is what makes altruism evolutionarily favored among workers.

Re:Male? Female? (1)

sysjkb (574960) | about 9 years ago | (#12975175)

Not all animals have equivalents of X and Y chromosomes, and even if they do, they don't necessarily follow the human pattern.

Human males have one X and one Y chromosome, and human females have two X's. But the female chicken is the heterogametic sex in that species. Hens have two different sex chromosomes, Z and W. Roosters have two copies of Z.

Re:Male? Female? (2, Informative)

lav-chan (815252) | about 9 years ago | (#12975275)

It isn't even always that simple in humans, either. There are females with only one X chromosome. There are also males with two X chromosomes plus a Y chromosome, and males with two Y chromosomes plus an X chromosome. There are even males and females that are completely opposite of the way they should be (males with XX and females with XY). And then there are some that are even crazier, like with three or four or maybe even five chromosomes.

This is pretty rare (like 1% of all people, i think, and a lot of them get surgery or hormone treatment or something to 'counter-act' the obvious effects), but it still occurs.

Re:Male? Female? (1)

systemic chaos (892935) | about 9 years ago | (#12975202)

I'm pretty sure the male seahorse fertilizes then carries the eggs until they are ready to hatch. Someone correct me if I'm wrong (as if that needs to be said)

Re:Male? Female? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12975566)

does it really matter? it's just a convention.

would it be any more or less meaningful to call the male seahorse the female and vice versa? would that make you more or less amused?

Evolutionary dead end? (1)

TuringTest (533084) | about 9 years ago | (#12975043)

How do they manage to survive as species without the benefit of variation from sexual reproduction?

Re:Evolutionary dead end? (1)

pkhuong (686673) | about 9 years ago | (#12975160)

Evolution at a higher level than genotype ("culture", in a way, although that seems far-fetched for ants :), or through mutation, for example. Sexual reproduction mostly allows to recombine existing genes in a new way. What I'm wondering about is how the different colonies can make the difference between themselves and sister colonies.

Re:Evolutionary dead end? (4, Informative)

(negative video) (792072) | about 9 years ago | (#12975164)

How do they manage to survive as species without the benefit of variation from sexual reproduction?
The workers, which are most exposed to the big nasty world, get half their genes from each parent. That gives some variation, and the (cloned) fertile ants have their food and water thoroughly filtered by the workers, which gives them protection that most parthenogenic species don't get. This genetic system was only recently discovered and the investigations are very preliminary, so it isn't yet known if crossing-over occurs rarely.

Colony genetics (5, Informative)

scaryfish (664305) | about 9 years ago | (#12975146)

Ants (and bees) have some pretty interesting genetics going on. The evolutionary reason behind why they form hives and colonies is kind of counter-intuitive - why would a worker give up its reproductive potential?

Bees are haplo-diploid. That means that females are diploid (2 copies of every chromosome) but males are haploid, forming from unfertilised eggs. So when eggs are fertilised by males, the offspring (workers) end up having 1/2 their mother's DNA but all of their fathers. This means that unlike "normal" sexual reproduction, siblings share 3/4 of their DNA on average, which is more than they could share with their own offspring. So it is in their genes best interest to help produce more siblings than to produce their own offspring.

Re:Colony genetics (1)

snilloc (470200) | about 9 years ago | (#12975630)

The evolutionary reason behind why they form hives and colonies is kind of counter-intuitive - why would a worker give up its reproductive potential?

You're approaching this the wrong way. I think Matt Ridley said it best - "the gene's eye view". The genome of the ant/bee species continues. In this view, the genes "use" the workers and the reproductive individuals in much the same way. With evolution, the question is "what best promotes the genes?" Or, more bluntly (and perhaps more accurately), "what works?"

This is weird... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12975151)

Check out this website:

http://www.evergreen-foundation.com./# [www.evergr...dation.com]

Then login under "extranet login".

By-pass sloppy security with this id & pswd: PROPAGATE

I can't figure out WTF is going on. I didn't think the tech was that far advanced.

I, for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12975214)

I, for one, welcome our Ant Clone overlords!

Ant experts discussing on my forum... (1)

antdude (79039) | about 9 years ago | (#12975396)

Click here [ezboard.com] to read.

The Darwin rule of economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12975453)

Maybe they do it for economic reasons? You could save a fortune on dinners and movies.

Evolutionary dead-end (1)

Max von H. (19283) | about 9 years ago | (#12975583)

With such a narrow gene pool, could this be an indication that this particular species has attained an evolutionary standpoint at which the present DNA happens to be at the end of its possible evolution?

Some genetics/evolution specialists here care to explain?

I think this is the important part: (1)

FFFish (7567) | about 9 years ago | (#12975596)

these ants have struck the perfect balance between diversity and population. They need one-quarter as many males as females.

There's an appropriate gene combination for every form of significant ecological change the colony has previously encountered. When the ecology changes, the queens and males breed experimental variations of the species. Those that add a new combination that provides the form of worker ant that will keep the colony alive will join the ranks of the self-cloning.

I always end up seeing this life "thing" as coming around back to memes in our genes. Life does what is necessary to keep DNA moving forward through time.

This can't be allowed! (1)

mbrother (739193) | about 9 years ago | (#12975714)

If animals all reproduced by cloning, how would shy parents be able to teach their kids about sex?

asexual reproduction not uncommon in animal kingdo (2, Insightful)

krunk4ever (856261) | about 9 years ago | (#12975773)

i'm not sure why cloning in nature comes to us as a surprise at all. all single cellular organisms duplicate themselves (i.e. cloning). we've already known for a long that that many animals in the animal kingdom are known to have asexual reproduction.

from http://biology.about.com/library/weekly/aa090700a. htm [about.com]

In asexual reproduction, one individual produces offspring that are genetically identical to itself. These offspring are produced by mitosis. There are many invertebrates, including sea stars and sea anemones for example, that produce by asexual reproduction.

Re:asexual reproduction not uncommon in animal kin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12975957)

What makes this remarkable is that males are reproducing asexually.

Link to PDF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12975826)

The PDF of the Nature article is available here [geocities.com] .
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