Absurd Creature of the Week:

World’s Most Badass Ant Skydives, Uses Own Head as a Shield

By Matt Simon 

With a range stretching from Argentina all the way up into the southern U.S., this incredible genus of ants has also mastered the art of rainforest skydiving, leaping from the canopy to avoid predators, only to steer themselves mid-flight right back onto the trunk of their home tree. And they do it with remarkable agility.

But first: that strange head. The various species of Cephalotes have a range of head shapes. Some are almost perfectly circular, like a manhole cover. These ants typically establish their colonies in dead branches of living trees, where wood-boring beetles have conveniently left cavities. “The size of the soldier head is perfectly matched to the size of the beetles that came out of the tree,” said tropical ecologist Stephen Yanoviak of the University of Louisville.  The Cephalotes move in, and at any given time a soldier’s head serves as a door to keep the ants’ many enemies at bay.

In other species, the soldiers have to team up. Cephalotes atratus, below, occupy the hollow branches of living trees, where a longer slit in the wood acts as an entrance to their colony. “What they’ll do is the soldiers and the workers will line up basically cheek to cheek with that fairly flattened head,” said Yanoviak. “And they can collectively block the entrance that way.”..

(read more and watch em go: Wired Science)

photos: Stephen P. Yanoviak

In living tree branches. Imagine cutting one down.






Hi everyone. i’ve been working on a cross-stitch design for the wall hanging that sandry made and gave to tris in the circle of magic books. my only problem is i need to design one more bird but i can’t decide what bird to do. i tried designing a parrot but that was a bit too much effort. does anyone have any cool ideas for what my 6th bird could be?

edit: here is the complete pattern

Interesting and unusual that you’ve chosen almost entirely North American birds -pileated woodpecker, blue jay, ruby throated hummingbird, flamingo. And then the toucan is South American I believe. Seeing as Emelan seems pseudo Europe I would personally favour Euroasian birds. Might be nice to see a heron or egret in there. Or kingfisher.

Well, considering the only bird mentioned in the book is the toucan and it is a central american bird, i feel like it is canonical that sandry has seen birds from the americas. Whether it is in menageries or she went to the americas, sandry has seen birds from there.

i personally head canon that she made this hanging in response to seeing these birds when traveling with her parents. The flamingo from her travels to africa, the peacock from india, and the red throated hummingbird, the bluejay, the toucan and the ivory-billed woodpecker from the americas. 

I didn’t mean to offend you, it was just an interesting pattern I noticed.