Cops with Six Legs

Most biologists who have considered insect societies see them as models for studying altruism, with the workers looking out for the common good. But according to Wenseleers, the new work suggests that the more appropriate image is that of oppressed workers in a police state. —Susan MilliusCops with Six Legs (Science News)

While I spent an enjoyable Easter Sunday afternoon watching the classic giant ant movie Them, I’m hardly an expert in insect behavior. This article is a fascinating case study in how metaphors condition us to see what we want to see, rather than the evidence. Consider this excerpt, which hints at a Shakespearean plot:

One queen lay immobile, as if feigning death, for 14 hours, and thus outlived all others of her kind. However, when she finally moved, she acted aggressively toward the workers and the rightful queen, and the workers killed her too.

This article, while clearly designed for the popular audience, features a hefty reference list, as well as hyperlinks to academic articles behind a subscription firewall.