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Ants have colonised almost every landmass on Earth.The only places lacking indigenous ants are Antarctica and a few remote or inhospitable islands.Like ants, termites are eusocial, with sterile workers, but they differ greatly in the genetics of reproduction.The similarity of their social structure to that of ants is attributed to convergent evolution.Ants evolved from a lineage within the stinging wasps, and a 2013 study suggests that they are a sister group of the Apoidea. The specimen, trapped in amber dating back to around 92 million years ago, has features found in some wasps, but not found in modern ants.During the Cretaceous period, a few species of primitive ants ranged widely on the Laurasian supercontinent (the Northern Hemisphere).
Larger colonies consist of various castes of sterile, wingless females, most of which are workers (ergates), as well as soldiers (dinergates) and other specialised groups.
More than 12,000 species are currently known (with upper estimates of the potential existence of about 22,000) (see the article List of ant genera), with the greatest diversity in the tropics.
Taxonomic studies continue to resolve the classification and systematics of ants.
Their ecological dominance is demonstrated by their biomass: ants are estimated to contribute 15–20 % (on average and nearly 25% in the tropics) of terrestrial animal biomass, exceeding that of the vertebrates.
Ants vary in colour; most ants are red or black, but a few species are green and some tropical species have a metallic lustre.