Despite being tiny creatures, ants do some incredible things. They lift items many times their own body weight. They build incredibly complex colonies. They work in teams. They communicate with one another. Their hard work and thrift even earned them a place in the Bible as an example to a lazy man of what he should be. Every time researchers study ants, it becomes more clear that they had to be designed. Never was this more evident than in the recent release of a paper revealing that some species of ant actively perform medicine on their injured comrades. This article will discuss this research and how it points to a Creator.
This new research by Dr. Erik T. Frank and his team out of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland is based off a prior study done by the same team. Dr. Frank studied Matabele ants from Africa and discovered that, after raids on termite mounds or other ant hills, the ants would carry many of their wounded comrades home to their own anthills. Dr. Frank was curious why ants would bring the wounded home to die. This curiosity led him to the second study. He and his team brought ant colonies into the lab. They placed them in clear containers so they could study their actions underground.
In the indoor colonies, the researchers manipulated the ants so that they had injured comrades to deal with. When the injured ants were placed in the containers, the other ants responded immediately. However, they did not respond to all the ants. They were able to distinguish between mortally wounded ants and ants that could be saved. This is pretty impressive. However, they went a step further. When they brought the wounded ants back to the nest, they healed them. It sounds like something out of a video game but it isn’t. The ants actually provide a form of medical care to their wounded comrades.
Ants providing medical care to their comrades is a radical new discovery in the medical world. Rarely will animals provide any form of medicine to their own offspring, let alone to members of their population. However, when the Matabele ants are injured, they secrete a chemical, called a pheromone. This chemical sends a signal to the rest of the ants in the area that one of their fellow ants is hurt. However, the ants are not somehow obligated to rescue their brethren. When the ants are mortally wounded, their bodies do not release the pheromone. This effectively hides them from their would-be rescuers. This selflessness goes a step further, however. When researchers deliberately doused mortally wounded ants with the pheromone that called for a rescue, the mortally wounded ants would not allow themselves to be carried. They struggled and wriggled, making it impossible for their comrades to rescue them.
Once the wounded ants made it back to the nest, the members of the colony crowded around them and began licking their wounds. In ants, licking involves gently probing the wound with its antenna. While this does not sound very sanitary, it actually works. Of the ants that were wounded, ninety percent survived and were able to resume work within the colony. By contrast, those inflicted with similar wounds left in containers alone had an eighty percent mortality rate. This puzzled researchers so they placed some equally wounded ants in a sterile container. Eighty percent of those ants survived, leading to the rather obvious conclusion that it was infections, not the wounds themselves, killing most of the ants. Why the ants do not get infected in the colony is something of a mystery, though the obvious supposition is that the ants are preparing some kind of anti-bacterial mixture and placing it on their wounded fellows. That is, however, purely suppositional at this point.
The implications of this research are devastating to evolution, so much so that the National Geographic article about the discovery only mentions evolution once and makes no effort to explain the behaviors origin. And how could they? How does an ant, with a nearly microscopic brain, know to respond to a pheromone signal to rescue another ant? And how did it develop those pheromones in the first place? Why would natural selection select for a variation that caused mortally wounded ants not to try to survive? Isn’t that the whole point of evolution, the struggle for life? Also, how did ants develop an antibacterial solution? And how do they know to secrete it onto their wounded friends so that they don’t die? These questions demand answers, answers evolutionists just do not have. They have no answer for how behavior is passed from generation to generation, nor can they explain why a blind random process produced a selfless strain in ants.
Creationists do not need to fumble in the dark searching for explanations for these questions. Ants were designed to function this way from the beginning. They did not evolve the ability to take care of their comrades. It was hardwired into their DNA from the beginning. Only the Creator God could have designed the ant in such a marvelously complex fashion.