View Full Version : Classic Mota Boy's Thought of the Day

Mota Boy
04-11-2005, 12:51 PM
This is something I realized at some point around the end of elementary or the beginning of middle school one day when I was outside one day watering a fireant bed.

And ant isn't an organism. Ant colonies are organisms. Different ants act as the vascular system, the reproductive system, the immune system, the digestive system, etc., each of which cannot survive on its own.

Addendum - in this line of thinking, cities are also organisms.


04-11-2005, 01:58 PM
Can i ask are fireants basically red ants or super evil bitch ants? :)

Skate Rat 19
04-11-2005, 03:24 PM
Well then that would mean that the ants are like body cells. But your right, they are like the same.

04-11-2005, 06:30 PM
Am I the only one who went on thinking he was writing "ants are orgasms"? Yes... I am disoriented.

Have to say this thought is surely arbitrary. 1565 has gotten somewhere, these ant colonies aren't strongly dependent. So they're not exactly organisms, they can maintain themselves independently. Well... no. Okay ant colonies are semi-organisms. =/

04-11-2005, 07:47 PM
I definitely read something about orgasms at first glance.

But yeah, I have to agree with 1565 on this one.

And even if you were to consider the colonies organisms, there's really not much else to add to that. A semi-interesting comparison...

04-12-2005, 12:39 AM


04-12-2005, 06:30 AM
I agree with 1565. I could elaborate, but it'd useless.

Mota Boy
04-12-2005, 07:43 AM
I wouldn't say that all specialized systems would be organisms...if you remove the ants from the colony, they will form a new colony. If you removed your digestive tract, it wouldn't form a new you. Y'know?
But they cannot form a new colony without a queen. The other ants may set up some semblence of a colony, but they'll never be able to sustain it without any reproducing ants, ants that wouldn't be involved in the gathering/storing of food.

The ants that you remove will be replaced by the initial colony over time, much like, say, a starfish can regurgitate and replace its stomach.

04-12-2005, 08:12 AM
yeah, but rip off a fin, pull out it's veins, crunch it's heart & put a cork up it's shithole & it'll die.

an organism is self-sufficient. it can provide for itself. it adapts itself. if an organism has to eat, it'll get himself some food. if it's cold, homeostatics will come into action. if food is eaten, the tractus digestivus will come into action to digest it. yes, a community can adapt too. it can provide itself too. there are different organisations with functional systems too. but doh, it's collection of organisms. not too hard to figure out, that if one organism can function fine on it's own, a whole bunch can too.

I thoroughly love you Mota, but you no sense making.

04-12-2005, 08:23 AM
& let's just state that an organism lives with the biological systems dear mother nature gives it. that is a form of cooperation, but it can't be compared to cooperating social systems, which a community runs on. social systems fail & yeah, sometimes biological do too, but failure of social systems is based on our mental limitations, that of biological systems on physical limitations. & when it comes to organisms, nature hardly gives a fuck about intelligence & what organism to give it to. it's physical qualities, that make an organism an organism.

living in groups is purely practical. a respiratoir system of some sort isn't just rather fucking practical, no organism is able to even exist without it.

04-12-2005, 09:50 AM
You should rename this thread and the last one "Mota asks a biology student". (Thanks Bella).

That's the problem I have sometimes with non-sciencey people... say philosophers or whatever... they want to look at something all abstract and metaphorical and I'm like "No! That just isn't the way it is. And that's ALL there is to it".

Mota Boy
04-12-2005, 11:01 AM
I'm not trying to literally say that an ant colony is a singly organism and should be defined as such, but that, millions or billions of years ago, single celled organisms first clumped together and specialized for survival to such an extent that one day they were no longer considered individual creatures but one, multi-celled organism. With certain groups of animals, you can almost see the process recurring. Perhaps one of the most fascinating examples of this phenomenon is the Portuguese man of war (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_man_of_war), actually a colony of highly speciallized smaller jellyfish.

Within the any kingdom there are some amazing examples of specialized creatures that almost wholly give themselves over to the colony, one example being honeypot ants (http://www.myrmecos.net/formicinae/MyrmecoMex5.html), whose sole function becomes to store food for the colony.

Of course, I'm not saying that these creatures should be scientifically defined as cells of a larger organism - perhaps I shouldn't mix metaphorical language with scientific discussion - but I do think that they have become something less than a fully independent animal. It's one thing to group together for mutual survival, but being born sterile is a rather extreme form of altruism.

04-12-2005, 11:02 AM
Your idea is gay, let it die.

04-12-2005, 11:05 AM
you read that slashdot article (http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/04/08/158200) too?


LARGE numbers of individuals living together in harmony, achieving a better life by dividing their workload and sharing the fruits of their labours. We call this blissful state utopia, and have been striving to achieve it for at least as long as recorded history. Alas, our efforts so far have been in vain. Evolution, however, has made a rather better job of it.

Take the Portuguese man-of-war. It may look like just another jellyfish blob floating on the high seas, but zoom in with a microscope and you see that what seemed like one tentacled individual is in fact a colony of single-celled organisms. These "siphanophores" have got division of labour down to a fine art. Some are specialised for locomotion, some for feeding, some for distributing nutrients.

This communal existence brings major advantages. It allows the constituent organisms, which would otherwise be rooted to the sea floor, to swim free. And together they are better able to defend themselves against predators, cope with environmental stress, and colonise new territory. Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish are truly superorganisms.

With benefits like these on offer, it should come as no surprise that colonial living has evolved many times. Except that it does come with one big drawback, as the case of the slime bacteria, or myxobacteria, illustrates. These microbes are perhaps the simplest colonial organisms. Under normal circumstances individual bacteria glide along on lonely slime trails. Only when certain amino acids are lacking in their environment do individuals start to aggregate. The resulting superorganism consists of a stalk topped by a fruiting body containing spores. But since only the bacteria forming the spores will get the chance of dispersal and a new life, why should the others play along? How this kind of cooperation evolved, and how cheats are prevented from taking advantage of it remains unclear for some types of colonial life.

But in one group of animals, the colonial insects, we do know what the trick is - and it's an ingenious one. Females develop from fertilised eggs, while males develop from unfertilised ones. This way of determining sex, called haplodiploidy, ensures that sisters are more closely related to each other than to their own offspring. And this means that the best chance they can give their own genes of surviving is to look after each other rather than lay eggs of their own. This is what provides the stability at the heart of the beehive and termite mound, and in many other insect colonies where haplodiploidy has evolved at least a dozen times.

True sociality, or eusociality as it is technically known, is found in all ants and termites, in the most highly organised bees and wasps, and in some other species, not all of which employ haplodiploidy. And although these mini societies need careful policing to keep cheats at bay, this is probably the closest thing on Earth to utopia.

Kate Douglas


04-12-2005, 11:21 AM
Bees would be similar would they not? Communal insects.

There are lots of really messed up things that happen in the animal kingdom. Especially in terms of reproduction.

Mota Boy
04-12-2005, 12:51 PM
Your idea is gay, let it die.
If that was the sole determinant of survival, I'd have put you down a long time ago.

Endy - no I didn't, heh.

Betty - Yeah, I was also thinking of bees and termites (and jellyfish), but I didn't feel like spelling it all out.

'65 - Worker ants are multi-function, but I was thinking of queens and soldiers too.

I just find it interesting that, in part, if society broke down that I couldn't survive. I mean, there's a chance I could, but because humans (like cells) have become so specialized over the course of civilization, I have no direct access to food. I live close enough to some large bodies of water that I guess that wouldn't be a problem if I didn't mind walking several miles a day for it. How few members of modern countries are truly self-sufficient? Even the farmer has been replaced by a mega-farm that needs power to drive heavy machinery and water plants to survive. It's possible to think of highways as blood vessels, power lines as nerves and hospitals as immune systems that are all needed for society to function.

But eh, it's just a random thought.