News Release 09-186
Homebound Termites Answer 150-Year-Old Evolution Question
Evolution of sterility potentially explained among social insects
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When two clans of termites wage battle, scientists have shown that succession to royalty is achieved by offspring that have stayed home as helpers. This metaphorical chessboard situation shows the dark Queen termite deposed, and the King in grave danger of check mate. At the same time, the white team's pawn of the eyeless worker caste ascends to royal (reproductive) status with crown hovering overhead. Menacing soldier "rooks" patrol the sidelines.
Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation
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Get up close and personal with a termite colony in this audio slideshow.
Credit: Lisa Raffensperger, National Science Foundation