Study: Army Ant's Bloody Rampage Is in its Genes

"They are ferocious enough that I'm sure they could kill a baby cow that was tied up," Brady says.

Forest on Alert

He carried out his field research in several areas of Brazil, and he says his camp was visited many times by these regimented, hierarchal critters. Like most predators, they don't target humans, he says, so he could stand alongside the marching colony without any danger, but rest assured he watched his step.

When the ants were on the move, he says, the whole forest paid attention. Insects chirped loudly, and he says he could hear small animals running wildly through the forest, trying to escape. Birds followed the marauders, picking up the scraps left behind.

As for the ants themselves, there's not a lot of chatter going on. They move quietly along, a blood-red river that has not changed for 100 million years.

Lee Dye’s column appears weekly on ABCNEWS.com. A former science writer for the Los Angeles Times, he now lives in Juneau, Alaska.

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