Vegetarian Ants

on December 5, 2009

PhysOrg: “Bacterial Gut Symbionts Are Tightly Linked with the Evolution of Herbivory in AntsMost ants are carnivorous, yet some are herbivorous. But how do the herbivorous species get the nutrients they need?

For creationists, envisioning a world without death—as was the case before Genesis 3—entails envisioning a world without carnivory. And while some creationists have argued that insects are not alive in the biblical sense (and, thus, ants’ victims do not “die”), a new study shows how ants can survive without eating other organisms.

A new study shows how ants can survive without eating other organisms.

The research, from Chicago’s Field Museum, considered how ants that eat plant matter only can acquire the nutrients they need to survive, especially proteins—which isn’t a problem for ants that eat other organisms. The answer may lie in symbiotic microbes that live in herbivorous ants’ guts. The researchers learned that Rhizobiales, an order of bacteria, lives inside most herbivorous ant species but not carnivorous species. Rhizobiales microbes are already known to help plants convert nitrogen from the atmosphere into biologically usable compounds.

“It, thus, seems likely that the acquisition of nutritional gut bacteria has enabled the evolution and maintenance of herbivorous, nitrogen-poor diets across the ants,” a press release on the research states. The researchers also found other microbes living in some herbivorous ants’ guts.

While evolutionists see the microbes as having enabled previously carnivorous ants to survive herbivorously, creationists can just as easily see the opposite: God may have created all ants to be herbivorous, with specially designed gut microbes helping supplying essential nutrients to ants. In the post-Fall world, some ants have survived without the necessary microbes by resorting to carnivory—but what we see today are only flawed versions of the Creator’s original designs.

Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us.

(Please note that links will take you directly to the source. Answers in Genesis is not responsible for content on the websites to which we refer. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.)


Get the latest answers emailed to you or sign up for our free print newsletter.

See All Lists

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390