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No. 45: May-Jun 1986

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Scant Ant Chromosomes

The Australian ant Myrmecia pilosula, called the "bulldog ant" because of its viciousness, carries all its genetic information in a single pair of chromosomes. (Males are haploid and have just one chromosome.) Although classified as a "primitive" ant, the bulldog ant exhibits complex social behavior and is obviously far from a simple biological entity. Biologists were therefore surprised to find all genetic instruction residing in a single chromosome pair. Social insects tend to have higher chromosome numbers. It is also interesting that Myrmecia pilosula, originally described as a single species, actually consists of several distinct sibling species with chromosome numbers (i.e., pairs) of 9, 10, 16, 24, 30, 3l, and 32. Yet, they all look pretty much alike.

(Crosland, Michael W.J., and Crozier, Ross H.; Myrmecia pilosula, an Ant with Only One Pair of Chromosomes," Science, 23l:1278, 1986.)

Comment. Chromosome number or the sheer quantity of genetic material seems poorly correlated with biological complexity.

From Science Frontiers #45, MAY-JUN 1986. 1986-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987