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Writer Fuel: Solved – How Ant Queens Live So Long

ant queen - deposit photos

How far would you go to increase your life span by 500%? One ant species engages in brutal colony-wide brawls to replace recently deceased queens — and the victor not only gains the throne, but also gets a dramatic boost to their longevity.

Upon the death of a queen, Indian jumping ants (Harpegnathos saltator) battle to see which worker will take the queen’s place. Winning the crown means more than pumping out eggs — it also means living 500% longer than the average worker. Now, scientists may have pinpointed how substitute queens slow their aging.

The secret lies in a protein called Imp-L2, which counteracts some of the effects of insulin in the substitute queen ant’s body, according to a new study, published Thursday (Sept. 1) in the journal Science (opens in new tab).

“Writer Fuel” is a series of cool real-world stories that might inspire your little writer heart. Check out our Writer Fuel page on the LimFic blog for more inspiration.

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