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A swarm of army ants is a sight to behold. Thousands upon thousands of ants band together to create massive foraging highways, spanning hundreds of meters and preying upon everything in their path. Individually, these ants can’t do much. But together, they barrel through all kinds of obstacles—and, in a feat that’s truly surreal to witness, they build bridges out of their own bodies.


What do scientists know about these living, breathing structures? What motivates these ants to build them? And at the risk of getting way too metaphorical about the whole thing: what can ant bridges teach us about ourselves?

Today’s episode features Helen McCreery, who is now a full-time lecturer at Tufts University; and Albert Kao, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Both of them have done fascinating research on collective behavior.


Abridged is produced, sound designed, and mixed by Rebecca Seidel. The executive producers are Ian Enright and Megan Nadolski at Goat Rodeo.

Subscribe to Abridged on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your podcast platform of choice. And share this episode with a bridge-loving friend.

Follow Becca and get in touch if you have a bridge story of your own.

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