how ants ended up living underground
(originally posted 6/7/2015)
Two ants stood lamenting the number of predators that seemed partial to ants.
“I’ve heard tell of a new beast called an anteater. Big fellows.”
“Really? Are they dangerous?”
The ant slowly turned his head in the direction of his comrade. “They are called anteaters. What do you think?”
The other ant said nothing. His friend continued. “No matter where we build there seems to be something that wants to eat us. Is there no safe place to raise our kids?”
After a few moments the other ant said “What about… ?” and he looked down.
His buddy followed his gaze down towards the ground and then back up to his face. “I don’t follow.”
In order to properly enjoy this image it might help to imagine the ant having the voice of Ricky Gervais and many Ricky Gervais-like features as he gives a little nod in the direction of the ground.
“You know … underground?”
“What do you mean? I still don’t follow.”
“I mean, what if we lived underground. Just burrow under the earth away from all the things that eat us?”
A light wind began to blow and momentarily distracted our insect protagonists, a light wind being capable of lifting an ant and depositing them a few counties over. After the wind subsided a bit the one ant still look unconvinced. Finally he mustered up one of many objections lurking in his any head.
“What about when it rains?”
It’s at this point in the story that I must admit I have no idea why anthills don’t immediately fill with water and drown all their inhabitants. You can see how this might cause the story to come to a grinding halt.
“What about it? We’ll dig places for the water to run off.”
If you think the other ant’s face looked befuddled you should see mine. I have no idea if that would work.
“Lots of insects live underground. You have to think outside the box.” All of a sudden he got very animated and did a quick test run of using his mandibles for grabbing a rock and moving it out of the way. After doing this a few times a small hole started to open up beneath him.
“See? There’s nothing to it. If we get everyone to help we could be living quite comfortably underground in only a few hours.”
“Then what? What is there to do underground?”
Obviously his less-industrious friend was having none of it. He stood there quite incredulously as his more-industrious friend began to disappear into a hole of his own making. Soon he could only see the top of his head.
“You know this will never catch on right? It’s dark. How is anyone going to see?”
“We’ll use these antenna on top of our heads. Nobody knew what they were for, maybe this is why we have them?”
“Oh sure, everyone is going to be fine trying to see a sunset using their antenna ten feet under the ground.” He then went on a long rant about how sitting in a dark hole will really bring out the yellows and reds of a sunset.
About that time another ant came along to tell them the bad news that a large number of their colony had just been eaten. The ant that had wanted nothing to do with the idea of living underground took a long look into the hole his friend had dug and sighed a long sigh.
“Hey pal, why don’t you give us a hand. We have an idea we’d like to run by everyone.”
And a few days later they were all living underground.
Meanwhile a few miles away a couple anteaters were talking. “I haven’t seen any ants lately.”
“Is that bad?”
“We’re anteaters, what do you think? I’d like you to do me a favor and stand on my tongue.”
“I’d like to stretch it out a bit. I have an idea where the ants went.”