Ants in the Panamanian rain forest could inspire high-tech tools of the future that are strong and can withstand fracture. During the course of his work, University of Oregon research scientist Robert Schofield also discovered that when the ants are no longer capable of doing their job, nature takes care of these displaced workers.
Leaf-cutter ants have powerful blades on either side of their head. These mandibles as sharp as any man-made knife, but wear out over time, according to University of Oregon research scientist Robert Schofield.
“It is stuck with one knife for its whole life,” he says.
Schofield built a tiny machine that could cut using blades removed from the ants and found that the colony spends twice as much energy cutting leaves as it would if all ants had sharp mandibles.