When Exploring, Ants March to the Left, to the Left

Scientists are exploring this 'behavioral lateralization'
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2014 10:56 AM CST
When Exploring, Ants March to the Left, to the Left
A pair of Texas leaf cutter ants are shown.   (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Roughly nine in 10 humans are right-handed, an example of "brain lateralization" that's pretty common among vertebrates—and now apparently invertebrates. Researchers in the UK are finding that even ants—which are invertebrates, meaning they have exoskeletons—carry an innate directional bias, in their case almost always turning left when exploring new territory, reports Science Daily. "The ants may be using their left eye to detect predators and their right to navigate," says a researcher. "Also, their world is maze-like, and consistently turning one way is a very good strategy to search and exit mazes."

And since everybody is turning the same way, the researcher says there's also "safety in numbers. Perhaps leaning left is more shrewd than sinister." Either way, better understanding these tendencies in invertebrates could help shed light on the behavior in more complex creatures—even including humans, reports Smithsonian. (Check out this ant's secret weapon.)

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