Leafcutter ants generally travel in long lines deep in the forest. They leave a scent along the trail so they can find their way back to their underground nests. They use their sharp jaws to cut leaves from plants, and then carry the large leaves on their backs. This particular ant was likely taking the leaf back to its nest, where it was then passed on to an even smaller ant that chewed it into a pulp. The pulp is then stored with ant feces (eww), and a fungus that decomposes the pulp grows. This fungus is what the ants ultimately eat! Nam nam nam!
I tell you this story, in part, because I am obsessed with Leafcutter ants, but mostly because I think this story is a good reflection of how science "works". Interesting observations, like the magically moving hot pink petal, lead to questions, and these questions lead us to ideas of how things work. Science is all about testing these ideas (through experimentation in the lab/forest/ocean/outer space), and gathering appropriate and sufficient evidence to prove and explain these ideas. These explanations solve problems, while deeply enriching our lives with an ever-expanding (and evolving) library of knowledge. I look forward to exploring our curiosities (and formulating new ones) this school year through science, and developing explanations that could one day improve our environment and quality of life on the local, and possibly even global, level.
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