Only one female (the queen) and one to three males reproduce, while the rest of the members of the colony function as workers. The queen and breeding males are able to breed at one year of age. Workers are sterile, with the smaller focusing on gathering food and maintaining the nest, while larger workers are more reactive in case of attack.
Arguably, the Damaraland mole rat (Cryptomys damarensis) is the only other eusocial mammal currently known.
One hour and fifteen minutes on an unknown planet: Earth, rediscovered on a scale of centimetres. The inhabitants are incredible creatures: insects and other animals living in the grass and in the water. The landscape: impenetrable forest, tufts of grass, drops of dew as big as balloons… A land where the animals walk on water, stroll with their head down and fall without fear from over a hundred times their height, slowed down only by the resistance of the air. In this world the hourglass of time moves faster: one hour equals one day, one day equals one season, one season equals one lifetime. This is a voyage from the inside, leading the spectator to the heart of the action, as though he/she was the size of an insect. In making the spectator forget their human condition - within the framework of film - he/she can better delve into this marvellous reality, normally inaccessible.
Professor Brian Cox explains how Monarch Butterflies navigate by “monitoring the position of the sun, and compensating for its location in the sky using their internal timekeeping mechanism… even when it’s cloudy.” This is an episode 5 preview of the BBC’s Wonders of Life. Full screen this.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s fascinating and beautifully shot Birds of Paradise project is seriously addictive stuff. The birds-of-paradise are 39 different species of birds that live in New Guinea and the surrounding islands. They are colorful, unusually plumed birds that have complex mating rituals that include dancing and posing.
If you’ve ever seen a clip from the BBC’s Earthflight, you’ve probably wondered how filmmakers get such amazing footage of flying from the birds’ perspectives. This is an example of just one of their techniques: a radio-controlled Vulturecam.