Brazil’s Killer Cops

iD magazine - - Contents -

The se­cret civil war rag­ing on the streets of Rio de Janeiro

Heat makes you lethar­gic? Quite the con­trary! At least not when it comes to the Sa­ha­ran sil­ver ant: It keeps work­ing even in tem­per­a­tures of over 110°F and flits across the hot desert sand as cool as a cu­cum­ber. How does it do this with­out be­ing fried to a crisp? The ants’ body hair func­tions as a cool­ing sys­tem. The sil­ver hairs that are densely ar­ranged on their ex­oskele­ton en­able re­flec­tion of light and the emis­sion of heat. This means their bod­ies can re­main be­low the crit­i­cal ther­mal max­i­mum tem­per­a­ture of 128.5°F. The cool­ing ef­fect is made pos­si­ble by the unique tri­an­gu­lar cross sec­tion and color of the hairs. Th­ese find­ings should im­prove the cool­ing of tech­ni­cal de­vices.

12,000 species of ants ex­ist around the world. Al­to­gether, they make up 20% of the ter­res­trial an­i­mal biomass on Earth.

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