Can Ants Lift a Human?
Among the strongest insects in the world, ants are capable of lifting weights many thousands of times their own weight. Their small size and complex surface area allow them to handle these huge weights.
The average ant is able to lift 10 to 50 times their own weight. However, the Asian weaver ant is the strongest ant in the world, able to lift 100 times its own weight. The leafcutter ant, which is the common field ant in North America, is capable of lifting up to 9,000 lbs. This is more than the weight of 20 adult humans combined.
The Allegheny mound ant is not known for its lifting ability. However, it is very similar to a human riding a rotor carnival ride.
Researchers at Ohio State University have used a centrifuge to test the strength of ants. The ants were glued to the floor of the centrifuge and pulled outward, until the necks ruptured. The necks then deformed and spun faster. The researchers say this was enough to increase the forces on the ants.
In addition to their amazing strength, ants have a soft, yet hard exoskeleton. This allows the ants to lift heavier objects with less stress. They also have strong necks that are used to shoulder large weights.
The researchers used microcomputed tomography to reconstruct a 3-D model of the ant neck joint. The microstructure of the bumps and folds in the ant neck provides an excellent surface area to volume ratio, which is a significant quantity in biological terms.