German researcher Erik Frank, while studying ant colonies in the Ivory Coast, noticed that ants marched in columns of three on the way to attack termite nests. Once the battle was over, they would retreat back to their anthill carrying termites on their backs. But not just termites. Some of the tiny warriors carried fellow ants who were injured, maybe missing a limb or two.
Frank also noticed that, after a few days of convalescence at home, the injured ants were back on the battlefield, looking for food, having re-learnt to walk again (he had marked them with dots of paint).
Now. Ants don’t possess empathy, proven by the fact that, upon encountering an ant in need on the way to battle, they don’t stop to lend a hand. Only when the food is procured, on the way back, do they offer succor.
So, why do they do it? Because it makes economic sense. Because there is strength in numbers: the larger the colony, the stronger it is and the more food is amassed.
A friendly reminder from the animal kingdom that helping others goes beyond doing good for goodness’ sake.
You can read the whole study here