Mark Moffett

  • Aired:  05/04/10
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Mark Moffett describes the elaborate social structures of ants that include market economies and nationalism. (5:51)

>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK,

EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS AN EXPERT ON ANTS.

I HATE IT WHEN THEY PINCH MY CHEEK.

PLEASE WELCOME MARK MOFFETT.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

DOCTOR, MISTER?

>> DOCTOR.

>> Stephen: DOCTOR.

YOU WORKED VERY HARD FOR THAT TITLE.

I DON'T WANT TO TAKE IT AWAY FROM YOU.

>> DOCTOR OF ANTS.

IS IT ABOUTOLOGY?

>> IT'S MURMICOLOGY.

>> Stephen: THESE ARE ANTS THAT ARE HALF FISH?

>> IT TURNS OUT A COUPLE ANTS CAN CATCH THINGS LIKE TADPOLES AND MAYBE A FISH OCCASIONALLY.

>> Stephen: TRULY, TRULY?

>> IT APPLIES TO ALL OF THEM.

ANYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT?

>> Stephen: WE'LL FIND OUT A FEW THINGS ABOUT ANTS.

IT'S GOOD TO HAVE YOU BACK.

YOU'VE BEEN ON THE SHOW BEFORE TALKING ABOUT ANTS IN GENERAL.

NOW YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT ANTS WITH A BOOKMENT IT'S CALLED

"ADVENTURES AMONG THE ANGTS: A GLOBAL SAFARI WITH A CAST OF TRILLIONS.

" THERE ARE LITERALLY TRILLIONS OF ANTS OUT THERE.

>> THERE ARE TRILLIONS.

>> Stephen: WE'RE OUTNUMBERED BY ANTS.

>> WE'RE OUTNUMBERED A MILLION TO ONE.

>> Stephen: SHOULD I BE TERRIFIED?

>> YOU SHOULD BE.

THERE ARE COLONIES OF THEM IN CALIFORNIA, THE LARGEST SOCIAL ORGANISMS EVER SEEN, SOCIETIES

OF ABOUT 100 BILLION TO A TRILLION ANTS INVADING THE STATE AND MOVING ACROSS HUNDREDS OF

MILES AND BATTLING ACROSS FRONTS.

>> Stephen: THIS IS WHY WE NEED A BORDER FENCE, MY FRIEND.

WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO STOP THOSE ANTS AND ASK FOR I.D.

[LAUGHTER]

>> WE SHOULD.

>> Stephen: WHERE DO THESE ANTS COME FROM?

>> THEY COME FROM ARGENTINA.

>> Stephen: IS THAT ANYTHING LIKE ARGENTINA?

>> YES, IT IS.

THE ANTS THERE ARE SUPER AGGRESSIVE.

THE ANTS IN ONE PORTION OF ARGENTINA, THE NORTHERN PART OF ARGENTINA, INCLUDE A NUMBER OF

THE MOST DANGEROUS SPECIES ON EARTH, INVASIVE SPECIES, AND THEY'RE VERY GOOD AT BOARDING

SHIPS AND GETTING AROUND.

>> Stephen: THEY'RE ANT PIRATES?

>> YES, ANT PIRACY.

>> Stephen: NOW, SIR, LET ME ASK YOU THIS QUESTION: HEY, I GOT A QUESTION... MICHAEL,

PLEASE.

>> DO YOU HAVE ANY SOUND ADVICE FOR GRADUATES, BECAUSE IN MY NEW

BOOK, "A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FUTURE: TWISTS

AND TURNS AND LESSONS LEARNED," I TRY TO RELATE SOME OF MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES.

>> Stephen: MICHAEL, GET BACK TO THE DESK.

>> $17.99.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

>> Stephen: NOW, NOW, SIR,

THEY HAVE ELABORATE SOCIAL STRUCTURES YOU SAID BEFORE.

>> YES.

>> Stephen: LIKE ARE THEY...

ARE THEY YOUR BEST FRIENDS?

[LAUGHTER]

DO YOU MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE ANTS?

>> WHEN THEY BITE ME I DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY.

>> Stephen: YOU'VE BEEN BITTEN BY ANTS?

>> I'VE OCCASIONALLY BEEN BITTEN BY A LOT OF ANTS.

>> Stephen: HAVE YOU EVER BEEN BITTEN BY ANY RADIOACTIVE ANTS?

DO YOU HAVE ANY POWERS?

>> I PUT ANTS IN A VILE AND PRESERVE IT FOR STUDY.

DOES THAT SOUND POWERFUL ENOUGH?

>> Stephen: IF I WERE AN ANT.

THE PICTURES IN THIS BOOK ARE UNBELIEVABLY BEAUTIFUL.

ALL THESE LITTLE SQUIGGLES ON THE PAGE ALSO LOOK LIKE DRAWINGS OF ANGTS TO ME, AND IT'S HEFTY

YET AERODYNAMIC, SO IT'S REALLY GOOD FOR KILLING ANTS.

>> YOU'VE SAID THAT TWICE NOW.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

WELL, STEPHEN, I WANTED TO GO AROUND THE WORLD.

I GREW UP READING BOOKS BY JANE GOODELL AND SO FORTH.

I WANTED TO SHOW AN ADVENTURE BOOK COULD BE ABOUT AN ANT.

>> Stephen: SO YOU READ JANE GOODELL BOOKS AND YOU SAID, "I'M

GOING TO BE THE JANE GOODELL OF ANTS"?

>> YES, YES.

I FOUND OUT ALL KINDS OF THINGS ABOUT THEM.

THEY HAVE MARKET ECONOMIES.

THEY HAD NATIONAL BEFORE WE HAD THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

THEY EVEN HAVE THE VOTE SOMETIMES IN APT COLONIES.

>> Stephen: HOW DO THEY VOTE?

>> NOSE CRITICAL TIME FOR A VOTE IN ANT LIFE IS WHEN THEY NEED A NEW NEST.

MAYBE THEY'RE IN NORMS.

SOMETHING TERRIBLE HAS HAPPENED.

THEY HAVE TO MOVE.

AND THEY ALL GO OUT AND SEARCH AROUND.

AND THEY COME BACK AND TALK TO EACH OTHER WITH CHEMICALS.

>> Stephen: YEP.

>> SCENTS.

THE ONES THAT ARE MOST PERSUASIVE GET OTHER ANTS TO FOLLOW THEM OUT.

THEY EVENTUALLY IN A SENSE VOTE.

>> Stephen: THEY USE SCENTS TO ATTRACT PEOPLE?

ARE YOU SAYING IN 2012 SHOULD MITT ROMNEY START SQUIRTING PHEROMONES?

>> HE MIGHT BE.

I DON'T KNOW.

>> Stephen: HE MIGHT BE.

LET'S TAKE A QUICK SHOT OF SOME OF THE ANTS HERE.

WHAT ARE WE LOOKING AT HERE?

>> WELL, THESE ARE THE DRIVER ANTS OF AFRICA.

THEY ARE AN EXAMPLE OF A HYPER WAR-LIKE ANT.

ANTS AND HUMANS ARE THE ONLY ORGANISMS THAT HAVE FULL-BORE WARFARE.

THESE FELLOWS OR GALS BECAUSE THEY'RE ALL FEMALE MOVE IN SWARMS.

>> Stephen: THEY'RE ALL FEMALE?

>> YES.

>> Stephen: ALL ANTS ARE FEMALE?

>> THEY'RE ALL FEMALE?

>> Stephen: ALL THE ANTS ARE FEMALE?

>> THERE ARE THE OCCASIONAL MALES.

THEY DON'T DO MUCH.

THEY HAVE SEX AND DIE.

THAT'S ABOUT ALL THEY GET.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

>> Stephen: SO WE ARE A LOT ALIKE.

MARK MOFFETT, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME.

THE BOOK||||