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A Renowned Scientist Draws Attention To An Amazing Termite Mound On Twitter

November 27th, 2017

A Renowned Scientist Draws Attention To An Amazing Termite Mound On Twitter

Termites are not the most interesting of animals as far as most people are concerned. This is largely due to how tiny termites are in body size. We humans only seem to notice termites when they are chewing away at expensive houses or buildings. However, the world is a big place, and some termites that exist in other countries may be able to do things that termites in America cannot do. Building large cathedral-like nests is one talent that the termites in America do not have. A recent Twitter message and photo that was posted by the renowned biologist and writer Dr. Richard Dawkins has given termites some worldwide attention that, surprisingly, is not negative.

A few days ago Dawkins posted a picture of a termite nest that fascinated even him, which is saying a lot since he has been working as a biologist for many years. The picture was taken in Australia and it shows a unique looking termite nest that closely resembles a few well known man-made cathedrals. For example, the termite nest looks a lot like the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain. The picture is easy to find on Dawkins Twitter page.

The termite nest looks strange due to its high pointed peaks and greyish color. Surprisingly, Dr. Dawkins seemed unaware of which type of termite species could have been capable of such an astounding architectural feat. Dr. Dawkins posted a question asking which type of termite species was responsible for building the strange nest. Within a very short time, Dr. Dawkins’ post gathered thirty five hundred likes and well over a thousand retweets. There are also many more termite enthusiasts in the world than you would probably assume since thousands of people responded to the Dr.’s query. These responses included guesses from citizen scientists to answers from well educated academics and experts.

Eventually, an insect expert named Matt Shardlow answered the question definitively on a BBC news show. Shardlow claimed that the nest was unique in that it had been built at extremely tall heights in order to repair damage that it had undergone in the past. Judging by the grey tinge covering the nest, the nest was likely built by magnetic termites from northern Australia. The photo was taken in this region, so this answer is likely correct.

Cathedral termites are also capable of building enormous castle-like nests that are similar to the one in the picture posted by Dr. Dawkins. In fact, these types of nests have been found at heights measuring twenty six feet high. Unlike humans, termites do not need a blueprint in order to build towering nests capable of holding millions of individual termites.

Do you think that termites would be less hated by Americans if there were a more diverse population of termites in the United States?

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