Mammals are known for their distinctive characteristic of feeding their young ones with mammary glands that ants do not possess because they have different feeding mechanisms.
Are Ants Mammals? Ants are not mammals because they are eusocial insects and belong to the order Hymenoptera and Formicidae family. Moreover, they are cold-blooded invertebrates with no sweat or mammary glands. They have smaller bodies, less complex nervous systems, and simpler digestive systems. Furthermore, they do not have a nose or ear and fertilize eggs out of their bodies.
Ants and mammals share the same kingdom Animalia, but they get separated later in taxonomic categories and are put in different orders and families.
What category are ants?
Ants belong to a category of insects as they are closely related to organisms of the order Hymenoptera like wasps.
Moreover, they belong to the Formicidae family as they possess metapleural glands, a characteristic feature of this family.
More than 13,500 species of ants are present on this planet, with varying body sizes, colors, habitat preferences, and food choices.
Moreover, the presence of antennae, six legs, and three body parts are physical characteristics of these insects. They prefer to live in colonies, unlike mammals, as they cannot survive alone.
The population of these insects is many times larger as trillions of ants live there because they multiply quickly, leading to a quick rise in population.
In addition, they are considered invertebrates having boneless bodies and prefer to adopt an omnivorous diet based on plants and living or dead animals.
Why are ants not considered mammals?
It is easy to differentiate two different types of organisms by observing their physical and behavioral characteristics, as every species on this planet differs from others.
Mammals and tiny ants are land animals, but they are categorized in different taxonomic orders according to their abilities to regulate body temperature.
Insects are cold-blooded organisms as they cannot regulate their internal body temperature according to environmental conditions because their bodies cannot generate heat.
They have to hide in winter as they cannot resist cold weather and cold air for long. Moreover, they prefer to live in warm conditions as mild weather suits their reproduction.
So, mammals are warm-blooded creatures that can efficiently maintain internal temperature with changing climatic conditions.
Less complex brain and heart
Insects do not have complex body structures; they have simpler bodies lacking advanced and larger organs like the brain and heart.
They do not have a heart, but a dorsal aorta is present that runs all over their bodies and transfers fluid to different regions.
Additionally, they do not have blood, but hemolymph flows through the body, which helps transfer nutrients and other molecules to different body parts.
Moreover, they have less complex brains controlling a few functions like muscle movement. Insects do not have feelings as their brains are not advanced to process such emotions.
Mammals are vertebrate animals having a backbone that provides firmness and structure to their bodies.
They possess a hard exoskeleton that protects their internal organs and keeps them in shape. Moreover, they have a complete digestive system and complex nervous system.
In contrast, ants do not have a backbone and contain a small number of neurons that control a few functions of their bodies, like muscle movement.
Furthermore, their nervous system does not respond to pain as they lack pain receptors.
Their digestive system is simple, based on two small stomachs that cannot process complex structures like leaves having rigid cell walls.
Absence of ear and nose
Higher animals or mammals possess distinguishing physical features not present in insects. For example, they have ears and noses on their upper body to hear and smell things in the environment.
However, ants do not have ears and are known to be deaf organisms, but they have other sensory organs that are sensitive to vibrations and detect sound waves.
In addition, they do not possess noses like humans, but it does not mean that they have no power of smell. For example, olfactory receptors on their antennae can help detect odor molecules.
So, their smaller bodies cannot handle complex organs like the nose and ears, so they adapt to different mechanisms.
Smaller body size
Ants are tiny insects compared to large bodies of higher animals, making them different. These insects are usually 2 to 20mm long, with an average weight of 2 to 6mg.
However, the smallest mammals on Earth are the Etruscan Shrew and Pigmy Jerboa, having 1.55 inches and 2.5 inches of body lengths. It means they are bigger than even the giant queen.
These insects have more than 13,000 species compared to more than 5000 species of mammals and are larger in number, but their small body size makes them suitable for the Formicidae family.
Lay unfertilized eggs
Insects can reproduce like mammals, but their mode of reproduction is different as they produce and lay eggs by asexual reproduction.
Mammals produce eggs in their bodies, fertilize eggs in their abdomens, and keep them inside until fertilized eggs turn into adults.
These tiny insects release eggs and fertilize them out of their bodies, which means the reproductive cycle completes outside the mother’s body.
Absence of sweat glands
The presence of external and internal glands is a prominent feature of mammals, but insects have glands on their bodies, like poison glands releasing toxic chemicals.
However, they lack sweat glands and mammary glands that are essential to release excessive salts or water from the bodies and feed milk to young ones.
Ants only have metapleural glands and secrete antimicrobial compounds to kill their enemies and keep themselves protected from infections.
So, sweating is the process of releasing wastes from skin glands and is unique to larger animals; that’s why these insects are placed in the order Hymenoptera.
What characteristics do ants share with mammals?
Ants’ distinctive physical appearance and behavioral characteristics make them different from all other animals in the kingdom Animalia.
The distinctive feature of mammals is the presence of hair on bodies that are also found on the ants’ bodies. In addition, the dorsal side of their bodies is covered with fine hair.
The body hair do not help maintain body temperature in cold environments, but they have sensory receptors on small body hair that help detect chemical and mechanical signals.
In addition, they have teeth or mandibles like mammals and perform similar functions of chewing and holding food particles.
Furthermore, they store fat deposits in their bodies to feed the young, similar to the ones stored in the bellies of higher animals after metabolism.