WASHINGTON, Sept 20 (Reuters) – The world’s human population is forecast to surpass 8 billion in the coming months. Compared to ants, that is a mediocre milestone.
Researchers have made the most thorough assessment to date of the global population of ants – insects that have colonized almost everywhere on the planet – and the estimated total is a mind-blowing 20 quadrillion of them, or approximately 2.5 million for every human.
It should come as little surprise considering how ubiquitous these busy and social insects are and the fact that they have thrived since the age of dinosaurs, with the oldest-known ant fossil dating back about 100 million years to the Cretaceous Period.
“Ants certainly play a very central role in almost every terrestrial ecosystem,” said entomologist Patrick Schultheiss of the University of Würzburg in Germany and the University of Hong…