Leave no man behind, an old rule in warfare, learned by any Army recruit from the basic training.
Never leaving a fallen comrade is also another rule, even when the warriors are ants, according to a report published in the journal Science Advances.
Megaponera analis, a species of ants, hunt and eat termites. And this war is going on with a real military strategy: scouts will go out, searching for a group of termites, and after finding it, returning to the ant nest to muster the troops.
200 to 500 ants will march out in formation, like three ants next to each other, in a 2-meter-long column, very peculiar, looking like a long snake walking on the ground, explains biologist Erik Frank, a doctoral student with the University of Würzburg in Germany who is researching animal behavior and evolution.
When the termites spot this invading army, they try to escape, that's the start of a fiercing fight.
The roughly battle is over in 20 minutes. with casualties. There are a lot of termites lying dead on the ground, and the ants start collecting the termites to return to the nest.
But that's not all, the scientsit noticed that some of the ants were marching home after battle and there weren't carrying termites. Instead, they were carrying other ants.
It turns out, those transported ants weren't dead — they were injured.
In this war of survival, ants sometimes lose a leg or two, which makes it hard for them to walk. Or, they can be weighed down by a dead termite whose jaws had clamped onto them.
Marking these injured ants with paint, biologist learned that in nearly all cases, after being carried home, they made a full recovery.
They learn to walk with fewer legs, and their ant buddies apparently will pull off stuck termites. It doesn't take long for an ant that's been hurt to once again be ready for action.
Injured ants carried back to the nest