Barcodes let scientists track every ant in a colony

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2013-04-22

A barcoded ant gets to work.
Alessandro Crespi

For creatures with very small brains, ants build strikingly complex societies. How a colony of hundreds or thousands of ants maintains order remains poorly understood, but new high tech research methods might be able to shed some light on the complexity of the colony.

A team of Swiss scientists glued barcodes to hundreds of ants living in six laboratory colonies and recorded all of their movements for more than a month. The video analysis recorded the position and orientation of every ant, twice a second. They published the results of the ant tracking in Science this week.

What can you learn from watching 9 million ant-to-ant interactions?

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