LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News Vol 1 no 2 Winter 1993   ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News ( ISSN 1440-0561)
The journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.

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Keeping the outside out

by David Ant&thorough

Late last year researchers discovered a completely new species of ant, with a society remarkably similar to our own, yet so different to other ant colonies as to make some scientists question whether they really are ants at all.

Using a microscopic video camera actually placed inside the nest, entomologists with special training in linguistics have unearthed some amazing details of the humdrum lives of these extraordinary creatures. It seems the society is made up of the usual array of roles in an ant colony, the soldiers, the nurturers, the workers, the young, but that the tasks carried out by these groups defies explanation. One group of, oddly, mostly male workers, has the task of creating dust. These have been labelled appropriately the "industrialists." 'Why do they need to create dust?' the entomologists asked themselves.

This question is to this day without an answer.

Another group of more typically female workers seems to have the task of cleaning up the apparently useless dust and protecting the young from it.

Chemical analysis of the dust has resulted in a shock finding - the dust contains a common neurotoxin to which the young and the eggs are particularly susceptible, so that explains why the cleaners clean it up.

So far we only have theories to explain why the industrialists make the dust One theory is that the industrialists and the rest of the society use completely different languages.

The language of the general community, appropriately labelled communication would appear to be little understood, if at all, by the industrialists, for whom only money talks. By a complex process it seems, creating the dust also creates money and perhaps it is the pursuit of this secondary product which inspires all the, for want of a better word, "cultural" activities of the industrialists, many of which have been named after the ultimate goal, money: with monotone voices they make repetitive monologues about monthly balances and what a great job they do of self-monitoring the amount of toxin in the dust Their toil necessitates the building of structures, some of which could aptly be titled monuments, but which when taken all together, are rather more like monstro-cities,or cities for short.

To date, it has not been determined whether the soldier ants speak by communicating or by money-talk. The role of the soldier ants, as to whether they make the rules or simply carry out the instructions of the industrialists will be the subject of future observations by the linguists.

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