Natures wonders: ant rafts have set crews! (Introduction)

by dhw, Wednesday, April 20, 2016, 12:54 (1329 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Clearly, then, the learners learn and at the same time the mature workers make adjustments - rather like the interchange between receptive teachers and receptive students. These assemblages are not fixed, even though the basic structure remains the same.
DAVID: Of course they had to adjust for passengers, but they still kept their same basic positions, which means they have some adaptation ability to reorganize.

I would regard their ability to adapt and reorganize their assemblage as a clear sign of intelligence.

David's comment: If they all know where to place themselves, it smells like instinct to me. It makes no sense they practiced their positions in advance of getting hit with a flood. By living in a flood prone area, I'm sure the instinct developed by necessity.
dhw: The practice would certainly have originated and developed by necessity, but there must have been a first time, just as there must have been a first chain, ladder, wall etc., and unless you wish to tell us that your God gave lessons to the originators of each structure.....I would suggest that the whole technology is much akin to the manner in which humans make and modify such structures - by using their intelligence.
DAVID: I'm sure there was a first time and instinct developed with a degree of adaptability for the size of a crowd of brood passengers, since saving the brood is a necessity. I suspect the development of instinct is a God-given property.

I am also sure there was a first time, and I suspect that the first time was an act of intelligence, just like subsequent adaptations and reorganizations. The wonderful post on slime mold (many thanks again) suggests a very early stage of such intelligence.
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/slime-molds-are-smarter-than-you-think...
QUOTE: "Even more amazing, when they sexually reproduce they break into individual amoeba-like cells and organize themselves into beautiful stalks and knobby spore-containing tops; the spores live but stalk cells altruistically sacrifice themselves."

Not human type intelligence, but rudimentary awareness to the point of taking decisions. Similarly, under “Animal consciousness”:

David's comment: No question animals have to be aware of their environment and are consciously aware, but they do not have the introspection of humans, the ability to conceptualize. It is a vast difference.

I am glad there is no question now, and so when you talk about ants and even about bacteria, perhaps you could drop talk of “instinct” and “automaticity” and recognize that all organisms have a degree of conscious awareness. How else could they take decisions? And decision-taking awareness suggests to me a form of intelligence. (For further comment re bacteria, please see “Cambrian Explosion”.)


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