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Re: Ant Hill Paleontology
Thanks to everyone who replied on and off line to my query about Ant
Hill paleontology. The response was overwhelming! I really appreciate
your generosity in sharing experiences, facts, speculations, and
Searching ant hills for minerals, micro-artifacts, and micro-fossils
is a venerable "folk" method of prospecting, a topic I've been
gathering material on for the past decade. Some paleontologists have
already begun approaching this useful ant behavior scientifically.
I'm collaborating with a myrmecologist at Stanford, who studies how
and why ants collect porous items (bits of charcoal, minerals, and
micro-fossils) and transport them to the nest midden. Even though
they also bring such items up when tunneling, the ants may do more
surface-surveying than core-sampling, as many of you have already
discovered from observation. Apparently, the ants seek out porous
objects that are easily marked with pheromones. Further studies are
ongoing, to understand the ant's "reasons" and to obtain average
distances of fossil transport. Your field observations from so many
difference localities will yield valuable evidence.
I'll keep the lists posted on any futher myrmecological developments
that would be of value in paleontology.