Watch: These Ants Perform Life-saving Operations on Injured Nestmates, Similar to Humans

These ants really do it all. Not only do they build intricate societies and manipulate objects many times their size, but now it seems they can perform life-saving surgical operations on their injured nestmates, similar to humans.

A recent study published in the journal Insects found that the turtle ant (Cephalotes sp.) uses its mandibles to manipulate the legs and bodies of doomed fellow ants, removing them from the battlefield. They also use their jaws to move the corpse away from the fight, to be eaten later.

This behaviour benefits the victorious living ants in two ways. Firstly, removing the corpse from the battlefield reduces the chance of disease spreading throughout the colony. Secondly, and more surprisingly, the victorious ants actually take the deceased ants' legs and forcibly remove the limbs from the still-moving victims. Eventually, the victims die from this trauma, but the victorious ants have gained some newfound weaponry.

The victorious ants effectively use the legs as a spear, which they then use to fend off future attackers, giving them a higher chance of survival during battles. Interestingly, researchers suggest these ants with limb-weaponry are more aggressive and successful in battles.

These findings show that manipulating the limbs of incapacitated individuals, and even causing their death, has significant benefits for the turtle ant colony as a whole.

This is not the only example of aggressive behaviour and intricate medical procedures in the animal kingdom. Some octopus species, for example, have been seen to bite off the leg of a predator crab and then eat the leg, causing the crab to become easy prey.

Octopuses will also eat their own tentacles if they are damaged beyond repair, giving the benefit of easy regeneration to the octopus, as well as a snack.

These behaviours show that animals across the board will go to extreme measures to ensure their survival, and in some cases, the survival of their colony.

This study just goes to show that there is still so much to learn about the natural world, and ants in particular.

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