Ants Have Teacher-Pupil Relations

From National Geographic:

Ants_2 When you were younger, did a family member ever show you how to find the local grocery store? Members of the ant species Temnothorax albipennis have a similar family tradition, according to a new study. The finding may be the first known example of a teacher-pupil relationship in a nonhuman animal, according to Nigel Franks, a biologist at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

“While it’s well known that animals will mimic each other, so one animal is learning from another … there’s sort of a two-way street in teaching that defines true teaching,” he said. For example, even though your guide could get to the store faster without you in tow, he or she slowly and patiently taught you the way so that you could one day make the trip on your own. In a similar manner, ants in a T. albipennis colony use a technique known as tandem running to teach each other how to get from the nest to a food stash. Franks and colleague Tom Richardson report the find in tomorrow’s issue of the science journal Nature. (Picture: Worker ants teach others the way to food with a poking and prodding technique called “tandem running.” These ants have been daubed with paint for tracking purposes.)

More here.