The story appears on

Page A10

October 18, 2019

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » World

Saharan ant world’s fastest

It’s official: The Saharan silver ant is the fastest of the world’s 12,000 known ant species, clocking a blistering 855 millimeters — nearly a meter — per second, researchers said yesterday.

Measured another way, the six-legged sprinter covers 108 times its own body length per second, a feat topped only by two other creatures, the Australian tiger beetle and the California coastal mite.

To do the equivalent, the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, would have to run the 200 meters in one second.

Making the exploit even more remarkable, the Saharan silver hits top speed racing at midday across desert sands that reach 60 degrees Celsius, the researchers reported in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

A quartet of researchers from the Universities of Ulm and Freiburg in Germany tracked down the Saharan silver ant, also known as Cataglyphis bombycina, the in the Tunisian desert and set up a field lab as a racecourse.

“Once we had located a nest, it was simply a matter of connecting an aluminium channel to the entrance and placing a feeder at the end to lure the ants out,” said lead author Sarah Pfeffer.

“They shuttled back-and-forth in the channel and we mounted our camera to film them from the top.”

The team also excavated a nest and took it to Germany, where they recorded Cataglyphis bombycina’s speeds in cooler climes.

As expected, when the temperature dropped to a chilly 10 degrees the ant slowed by more than a third. 

The silver ant easily outpaces it’s nearest ant competitor Cataglyphis fortis, despite having much shorter legs.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend