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sexta-feira, 6 de maio de 2011

#Mother's #Day: sacrifice @BreakingScience

A Termite Queen And Her Ultimate Sacrifice via @


npr The termite queen may be the mother who makes the ultimate sacrifice for her swarms of children. Isolated in an earthen capsule, she lays over a quarter-of-a-billion eggs in her lifetime. On the eve of Mother's Day, NPR honors this species' story of struggle, rebirth and death...


http://www.npr.org/

by The Kitchen Sisters

Hidden away in a towering, castle-like mound on an African savannah lives the termite queen. There, isolated in an earthen capsule, she lays over a quarter-of-a-billion eggs in her lifetime.

"The concept of the queen was basically named by early colonial naturalists," says writer Lisa Margonelli, who has been studying the mysteries of the termites. "When they dug through the termite mound and found this large female figure pumping out eggs they said, 'Well, that's the queen and she must be in charge.'"

The termite queen may be the mother who makes the ultimate sacrifice for her swarms of children. On the eve of Mother's Day, NPR honors this species' story of struggle, rebirth and death below ground.

The Nuptial Flight

Inside the termite mound is a world filled with non-stop activity and purpose. Each termite has a highly specified job. There are worker termites, soldiers termites and a special group of males and females called "alates," that are able to reproduce.

Once a year, on a particular damp warm evening, when the conditions are just right, these winged, virgin queens and males pour out of small crevices in the mound and fly into the air.

Mark Moffett, researcher at the Smithsonian Institution and a National Geographic photographer, has photographed these clouds of termites as they emerge.