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If you think a French kiss is a bit gross, count your blessings that you're not an ant. According to a study from Switzerland's University of Lausanne, ants are among the types of social insects that regurgitate food into one another's mouths as a way to communicate and strengthen social bonds.
The process, known as trophallaxis, allows the insects to pass hormones, proteins, and other molecules throughout a colony. "This creates a network of interactions linking every member of the colony," said Laurent Keller, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution. Professor Richard Benton, of the Center for Integrative Genomics, said the study proved that the ants are not simply passing food among themselves, since "trophallaxis occurs in other contexts, such as when an ant is reunited with a nest-mate after isolation," he said.
All about ants:
- Ants have the ability to carry anywhere from 10 to 100 times their own body weight, depending on the species.
- It is believed that there are about 1 million ants for every person in the world.
- Ant colonies range in size from a few dozen inhabitants to 300 million in so-called "super colonies."