A team of researchers has discovered he existence of huge termite mounds that can be seen from space. The mounds were found in Brazil and they are spread over an area that is approximately as large as the entire surface of Great Britain.
It is estimated that the fist mounds could have been built 4,000 years ago. It is interesting that the mounds themselves aren’t nests. They are merely the surplus material that was excavated and brought back to the surface by the insects, as they managed to develop a complex underground tunnel system.
According to the researchers, there are over 2000 million mounds and most of them measure an average of 2.5m or 8.2 feet in height with a width of 9m or 29.5 feet. An impressive figure comes up when you sum to total amount of excavated earth as it could be used to construct 4,000 pyramids as big as the Great Pyramid of Giza. It is the largest artificial ecosystem developed by a single insect species.
Some of the mounds have been cut open and it was revealed that they are filled with soil. It was thought that they could have used in order to ventilate the colonies but that doesn’t seem to be case.
The species of termite that inhabits the area feeds exclusively on dead leaves that are dropped by a particular type of vegetation called caatinga. Since the leaves only drop once a year and the vegetation is present on a large area the termites built vast tunnels in order to quickly travel from one zone to another. This allows them to track down their food source and quickly store it for later use.
The people that leave in the nearby regions are used to the mounds and they never thought of them as something spectacular. They only became visible from space after a part of the forest that hides them was cut for agricultural needs.
Patrick Supernaw is the lead editor for Great Lakes Ledger. Patrick has written for many publications including The Huffington Post and Vanity Fair. Patrick is based in Ottawa and covers issues affecting his city. In addition to his severe hockey addiction, Pat also enjoys kayaking and can often be found paddling the Rideau Canal. Contact Pat here