Saharan silver ant travels at 472 mph (equivalent)

The Saharan silver ant is an amazing creature. It has amazing abilities but a small brain. They ran incredibly quickly in order to survive the heat. Their body temperature can reach 53°C. The ambient temperature can reach 60°C. They live in a very harsh climate and they have to go far away from the nest to find food. Their food is normally animals that have died and dessicated in the heat. They scavenge for their food. They live on the edge of where life is possible. They are safe from predators because there are no predators.

Saharan silver ant. Photo in public domain and by H. Wolf.

In terms of equivalent speed, they travel at 472 mph or 108 body lengths per second. They can run at 85 cm in one second. They are not just sprinters. They can travel up to 1 km from their nest which is quite staggering bearing in mind their size.

This ant manages to attain this speed by galloping. Beyond 30 cm/s research shows that the ant spends time with all its legs off the ground.

And a top speed its legs are swinging at 1.4 m/s. They flick back and forth 40 times a second. As mentioned they do this for a long period of time. The information comes from research carried out by Dr Pfeffer in Tunisia.

By way of comparison, Usain Bolt travels at 27.5 mph when sprinting or six body lengths per second. The cheetah runs and a top speed of 16 body lengths per second or 70 mph maximum. The Peregrine Falcon travels at 143 body lengths but second or the equivalent of 625 mph. The Californian coastal mite travels at the equivalent of 1,647 mph or 377 body lengths per second.

The Dr’s research paper is published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. She recorded the ant travelling as it emerged from its nest using a high-speed camera.

She said:

“Desert ants have amazing abilities, with just a tiny brain. They are not just about fast running: they are spectacular in so many other ways.”

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