[This article was written by Ananya Sen, a graduate student in Microbiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ms. Sen is also a science writer and her articles can be found at http://ananyasen.web.illinois.edu/. This article was originally published by the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology (https://beckman.illinois.edu/about/news/article/2020/07/09/study-of-giant-ant-heads-using-simple-models-may-aid-bio-inspired-designs). Permission to reprint this article in BioQuick News has also been granted by Ms. Sen.] Researchers use a variety of modelling approaches to study form and function. By using a basic biomechanical model for studying body form and center of mass stability in ants, new research by scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign identifies the benefits of “simple models” and hope that it can be used for bio-inspired designs. “Most organisms are constrained in their shape and size because they are juggling different needs such as the ability to fly, forage for food, and reproduce,” said Andrew Suarez, PhD, a Professor of Entomology and Head of the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Ants are unique because they live in colonies and divide their responsibilities. Therefore, they don’t have the body constraints that other insects do.” “Ants have a wide range of head sizes relative to their body,” said Philip Anderson, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Some ants have such extremely large heads that even though they look like their heads should pitch forward, they don’t.
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