Termites and the megalopolis

A recently published study in Current Biology has shown that a species of termites has been colonising a huge area of Brazil – its surface is equivalent to that of Great Britain- in the past 4000 years. The visible results of this work consist in a large number of earth mounds that can be up to 3 meters tall and 9 meters in diameter which are not nests but rather represent the accumulation of waste material from the insects’ construction of the underground network. The mainreason for this impressive effort is, according to the researchers, to stock and safely consume leaves that fall only during a short seasonal interval. This case show the impressive capability of certain species to collectively transform and adapt their environments by creating permanent structures that can persist for thousands of years. Ants or bees have often been associated to humans for their complex social organisation, division of labour and structure. Therefore, can we obtain some interesting insights and inspiration from these impressive spatial constructions that are even older than the pyramids?

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