Every living organism on the planet, including ants, has evolved as they are not physiologically and genetically the same as they were in prehistoric times.
How Big Were Ants in Prehistoric Times? Ants were 2 to 3 inches long in prehistoric times, which is almost equal to the hummingbird body excluding its beak length. Moreover, these insects shared the planet with extinct creatures like dinosaurs and survived extreme environmental changes. Their body shape, eating behavior, colony size, and defensive strategies changed over the years.
Ants and other insects have adapted to changing environments and showed resistance, unlike other organisms that have become extinct.
What was the size of ants in prehistoric times?
Ants have changed their body size over the years as they were not the same in size as you see them today. Their size got smaller than those insects that were present in prehistoric times.
You can see the fossils of these insects, showing that they were giant 45 to 48 million years ago. They were almost double in size from the current insects roaming in America.
Moreover, they were equal in size to the hummingbird, excluding its beak length.
The body length of a hummingbird is almost 3 to 4 inches, but it is around 2 to 3 inches from head to abdomen.
In addition, the male drones were almost 2.5 to 3 cm, equal to around 0.98 to 1.18 inches, but the current species of male reproductive insects are 10 to 18 mm or 1 to 1.8 cm.
In the same way, queens were almost 5.5 to 6 cm or 55 to 60 mm, having bigger wings or even a few more than this average size limit.
Their wings were extended to almost 12 to 14cm, making them appear bigger than their original body size. The fossils of giant ants were found and preserved to study their evolutionary history.
So, they are physiologically evolved in addition to noticeable changes in behavior and eating habits that can be observed by comparing them with their fossils and studying their behavior.
Why are ants now smaller compared to prehistoric times?
The ants got smaller than their ancestors from prehistoric times, meaning species of these insects living 2.5 to 2.8 million years ago were more significant than those living at present.
This period was categorized as the stone, the iron, and the bronze age when humans struggled and invented new tools and practices to improve their lifestyles.
Moreover, they have evolved with each passing year according to their environmental challenges.
They have brought prominent modifications in the body sizes, in addition to minor changes in their behavior and response methods.
A rule of nature is the survival of the fittest, where only organisms that can evolve with environmental changes or adapt to the newer environment can survive.
Significant hormonal changes occur in their bodies when exposed to different environments due to lesser resistance against changing weather.
In addition, their long legs were not considered suitable for running and walking long distances. However, their stubby legs offer significant advantages and favor fast, long-distance running.
The smaller body sizes made them lighter and reduced the force of gravity on them while moving, resulting in quick escape from predators.
Furthermore, those insects that cannot cope with the fluctuating weather and changing habitats die when they cannot resist changes.
Accordingly, their larger body size creates a problem for walking and running and escaping from predators. So, they have evolved and decreased in size to make their bodies lighter.
How did ants evolve from prehistoric times?
Ants have evolved by changing their habits, which is not an overnight change and took many years to bring significant modifications.
The colony size was smaller in prehistoric times as a few of them preferred to live solitary or in smaller groups based on 10 to 20 insects.
However, their body size decreased over the years, allowing them to adjust to hundreds or thousands of workers in small spaces and promoting their eusocial behavior.
The colonial behavior is observed in the evolved species as insects from prehistoric times do not build large colonies. Moreover, their defense strategies also got modified with time.
Additionally, their eating habits changed with each passing year as the evolved species of insects adapted to manmade food like baked products in addition to fruits and vegetables.
The legs, wings, and antennae shapes and their length get reduced as they are smaller and more sensitive to smells.
Furthermore, their resistance to increased temperature also improved from the species living in prehistoric times because the planet’s overall temperature increased.
Are ants still evolving?
Evolution continues until life is on Earth because the world changes over time. Living organisms face different challenges each day.
Newer organisms or genetic variants of older species are becoming part of the new world due to improved resistance against environmental changes.
Ants are also evolving but at a slower rate, as this process takes many years when you see a new variant of insects in your society.
In addition, scientists have identified species of ants having a different way of living in a society carrying a supergene. For example, their colonies carry multiple queens, leading to improved survival.
A slight genetic modification after breeding two different species leads to changes in workers’ behavior and makes them accept more than one queen in the nest and feed them.
Were there ants in the dinosaur age?
Ants are ancient creatures living on the planet for millions of years and brought minor and prominent lifestyle changes to ensure survival.
Moreover, these creatures are older than humans as they lived from 140 to 160 million years ago, while humans appeared on Earth almost 0.2 to 0.3 million years ago.
However, the dinosaurs are older than the above two creatures and almost 230 to 240 million years old, but they have shared the planet with these tiny creatures.
At that time, these were present in smaller numbers and formed smaller colonies because they were bigger. So, they were not dominating species on Earth like they are at present.
The bigger creatures could not survive the changing climates and got extinct from Earth. The last dinosaurs were seen 60 to 65 million years ago.
Moreover, they have shared the surface with these tiny insects for almost 80 to 95 years and got extinct. However, these insects have managed to live in extreme conditions and survived.