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Of men and Ants


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This here is really a call for public research, but the title shall make sense after a little while. 

I was wondering whether those who took an interest in the topic of death in MD would like to publicize their findings. I, on my part, will speak of an experiment related to death and maybe incite some spirits.


A couple of years ago, I was suggesting a rework of death in md, because back then I was against the idea of reviving. I looked at it as a nefarious religious influence that went against the basest realities. Once dead...well, we'll take care of your grave in the years to come. Or maybe we'll forget. In games, this revival thing was extremely useful - your character just upped and went back to slashing monsters; death had penalties, but nothing major. The muse? Jesus - the original zombie.

That was then, but since that time i heard of this interesting experiment that some of you might know about: Dead ants' bodies release some chemicals after a few days as corpses, and living ants, recognizing the 'stench', drag them into the ant cemetery. This made a human hypotesize that a living ant that is coated in those substances will invariably be taken into the cemetery. In the video I watched, something more extreme happened - the ant went itself into the cemetery, stayed there until the chemicals wore off, then resumed its daily labour. 

This opens up a multitude of questions. 

That the ants recognize death by 'stench' and disregard the movement of a living ant as a sign of life, is not much of a surprise. (how do we perceive someone as dead?) But that the ant itself perceives itself as dead, is astonishing. 

"I am dead", says the ant, knowing already where dead ants belong, and going there itself, without questioning the fact that a dead ant couldn't possible reach it by itself. 

"I am alive", says the ant, when it doesn't smell of death anymore; and resumes its life.

What is an ant's life? An ant has a role, and that role in the community is its life. Work or fight for the colony - or spawn larvas - that is life. If an ant is 'resting' - an unnatural concept for an ant - then it's the same as being dead.  

What is human life? When reflecting on the world, are we dead? Or is this part of our role?




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I've had an ant farm before and I think they do it mostly to clear up space. Most animals don't have an understanding of death save some rather intelligent ones like elephants who grieve for their dead. Obviously the pheromones are signalling to take an object to the burial spot, just in this case the object happens to be itself.

Most animals role in life can be summed up to about two things, eat and reproduce. In a tribal species like ours the reproduction can serve to fulfill the eating aspect as the more children you have the more potential they will bring back some food for you. Nowadays though with agricultural related advancements it is not always necessary to reproduce as much as you can in order to ensure your species, or your own, survival. With overpopulation being a real threat set to occur at around 12 billion people there is some key questions we need to be asking ourselves before we get to that point.

Being dead as an alive individual could be summed up to genetic death, the inability to reproduce. The chromosomes of your ancestors have been passing themselves along for millions/billions of years and as soon as you don't do that you are the first of your line not to.

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So you say refusing to do your duty (passing around your genes) means your death? That seems very much like an ant's life (one implicit question to my text was whether a human's life and an ant's are comparable). Interesting. So how do you keep on living, then? Just like an ant resting in (our case, ideologic) graveyard? 

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Well not your death, but consider that you won't have any copies of you running around passing on your genes. Often the older members of a species take on 'caretaker' roles for the babies while the younger fitter members go out and do that foraging stuff, to make the ant analogy this could be like the ants who protect the queen and care for the larvae but I think those are dedicated roles and not based upon age. Basically, you end up with a different role to suit the needs of the colony rather than what is the basic role (reproduction) although with the diverse society we live in that role can end up being anything really.

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