Scientists unlock ancient genetic code, create super soldiers:

Total posts: [21]
1 BlueNinja05th Jan 2012 07:49:15 PM from Lost in a desert oasis , Relationship Status: In my bunk
Chronically Sleep Deprived
And I for one welcome our new insect overlords.
Nightmarish "supersoldier" ants with huge heads and jaws have been created by activating ancient genes that trigger their development.

Scientists believe the monster ants may be a genetic throwback to an ancestor that lived millions of years ago.

Supersoldier ants can occur naturally in the wild, but only rarely.

Advertisement: Story continues below In the deserts of America and Mexico, their job is to protect the colony from raids by invading army ants. The supersoldiers use their enormous heads to block the nest entrance and attack any enemy ants that get too close.

Scientists showed that ordinary ants of the species Pheidole morrisi contain all the genetic tools needed to turn them into supersoldiers.

By dabbing their larvae with a special hormone, they were able to induce the development of "supersoldiers" instead of normal worker and soldier ants.

The research is reported today in the journal Science.

Authors Dr Rajendhran Rajakumar, from Mc Gill University, Canada, and colleagues wrote: "We uncovered an ancestral development potential to produce a novel supersoldier subcaste that has been retained throughout a hyperdiverse ant genus that evolved 35 to 60 million years ago."

The results suggest that holding on to ancestral development toolkits may play an important role in evolving new physical traits, say the researchers.
Click the link to see the picture. Click it.

Isn't mad science supposed to stay in the realm of fiction???

I don't think we have an actual thread for discussing potential mad science, so let's make this it.
TBH, his ego doesn't need more stroking. Nor does any other part of him. - M84
Compulsive Researcher
The supersoldiers use their enormous heads to block the nest entrance

That thing just looks ridiculous. Although I suspect it's not going to take over the Earth anytime soon. The elder Dr. Narbon would disapprove.
3 TuefelHundenIV5th Jan 2012 08:23:14 PM from Wandering , Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Watchman of the Apocalypse
That is interesting if a bit freaky. Tinkering with atavistic traits (I think this is the correct term)sounds like there is a chance to accidentally cause an issue in a population.
"Who watches the watchmen?"
4 Bur5th Jan 2012 08:33:01 PM from Flyover Country , Relationship Status: Not war
Chaotic Neutral
The normal ant looks like it's doing the ant equivalent of saying "Woah, dude, what happened to your head?"
i. hear. a. sound.
5 TheWesterner5th Jan 2012 11:35:13 PM from The Land of Fools
Maybe, the human equivalent super soldier has a big head too.surprised
I was wondering why frisbees got bigger as they got closer then it hit me.
Gunpla is amazing!
So Super Soldier = Big Head Mode?
7 TheBatPencil6th Jan 2012 12:06:53 AM from Glasgow, Scotland , Relationship Status: I'm just a hunk-a, hunk-a burnin' love
And let us pray that come it may
(As come it will for a' that)
Not Actually Indie
That is interesting if a bit freaky. Tinkering with atavistic traits (I think this is the correct term)sounds like there is a chance to accidentally cause an issue in a population.

Probably not, given that they're not introducing any new genes into the population, and the "supersoldiers" have no way of propagating the trait. Actually, even if they were introducing new genes into the "supersoldiers," they'd have no way of passing them on, because soldier ants don't reproduce.
...eventually, we will reach a maximum entropy state where nobody has their own socks or underwear, or knows who to ask to get them back.
9 HeavyDDR6th Jan 2012 09:15:23 AM from Central Texas
Who's Vergo-san.
Scientists manage to make dumbest looking ants.
I'm pretty sure the concept of Law having limits was a translation error. -Wanderlustwarrior
Besides, the article says they ALREADY occur naturally. Just not with the frequency scientists can ensure they occur in a lab.
"You fail to grasp the basic principles of mad science. Common sense would be cheating." - Narbonic
That...looks really gross.
Urinate with precision and elegance.
^^Yeah, it's less creating a new species or something and more tweaking the odds of individual development options in an existing one.

edited 6th Jan '12 1:13:41 PM by INUH

13 Blurring6th Jan 2012 12:46:34 PM from a potential future people archeological dig site
Projecting to people
Agree with Katrika. Personally I think this is just a larger caste.

After reading it this is my personal conclusion of what is happening.

The scientists saw ants with supersoldier subcaste and try to trigger more of them. They identify and isolate the hormone required for it. The writer thinks scientists creating supersoldier ants makes better article than scientists discovering hormones. The writer shift the focus to the supersoldier ants and omitting the effort of the scientists in discovering the hormones.

edited 6th Jan '12 1:52:27 PM by Blurring

With great responsibility comes great future people.
Pronounced YAK-you-luss
Super Soldier? Looks more like Crippling Overspecialisation to me. Suspect they're rare for a reason.
What's precedent ever done for us?
15 Clarste6th Jan 2012 01:56:04 PM , Relationship Status: Non-Canon
One Winged Egret
Probably the kind of thing that normally only triggers in unusual circumstances. I believe locusts work like this too: normal grasshoppers become locusts in response to a certain population density. IIRC this can be triggered by rubbing the backs of their legs.

Basically life is cool is interesting. No more and no less.
Compulsive Researcher
I find it amusing that the supersoldier ants use their hilariously oversized heads as riot shields/fortress walls to defend the entrance to the colony. It sounds like something out of Pokemon (Bastiodon, anyone?).
Gee, this will sure be useful. Somehow.
18 Blurring6th Jan 2012 02:24:37 PM from a potential future people archeological dig site
Projecting to people
With great responsibility comes great future people.
19 Pykrete6th Jan 2012 03:19:03 PM from Viridian Forest
It's cool guys, we only have to worry if they pick out the ones with Hustle and start teaching them Claw Sharpen and X-Scissor en masse.
20 diomedes26th Jan 2012 08:41:51 PM from Monroeville PA
This reminds of how my idol Jack Horner (who I have met at a paleontologist conference about 1 year ago) wants to mess with the genes with certain birds to try to recreate a dinosaur.
Also known as Achillesforever6 of fame
@ stripe

It's part of the Canadian super soldier program. We will take over the world one day.
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Total posts: 21