In this ant species, 21% of the colony has major injuries from war – Ars Technica

Though many ants spend their lives peacefully tending fungus farms and herds of aphids, others have it much rougher. Such is the case with the ant species Megaponera analis, native to many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, whose days are spent endlessly hunting termites to eat. In fact, a typical M. analis will engage in at least two battles per day with nests of angry termites. They sustain so many injuries that these ants have developed something that is extremely rare in the insect world: M. analis has learned how to rescue and rehabilitate ants that suffer extraordinary injuries on the battlefield.

University of Würzburg ecologist Erik Thomas Frank and his colleagues spent over two years observing M. analis in Comoé National Park in the northern Côte d’Ivoire, tracking 52 colonies that conducted 420 termite nest raids. They recorded their findings in a paper for Science Advances, unveiling a society where combat and altruism have evolved side by side. Their work could also shed light on why rescue behavior has evolved among mammals, too.