An ant new to science has been found living on the bodies of some super-obese residents in Rotherham. The ant colony lives between the deep folds of skin and is thought to feed on the sugary secretions squeezed from pores.
It was a chance discovery by a paramedic called to extract a TV remote control stuck hard between stomach creases. He told reporters, ‘These search and recover operations are normally pretty boring. Usually we find stuff like mobile phones, coke cans and KFC bargain buckets but to find an entire functioning ecosystem living in there was quite something.’
It’s most likely a symbiotic relationship according to Professor of Ecology at Sheffield University, Daniel Devlin; ‘The ant gains a safe home and food for its colony and the human host gets its skin cleaned of exudates which would otherwise result in the harmful growth of sooty moulds. It’s another example of the beauty in nature.’
The team from Sheffield Biology Department think the discovery important enough to merit special protection; ‘We think the families should be kept free from disturbance so that the ecosystem can flourish and there is already a plan to introduce the ant to other suitable hosts to ensure its survival. Luckily most super-obese adults tend to have pretty fat children so the ants have readymade wildlife corridors’
The BBC’s wildlife expert, Chris Packham, cautions against the symbiosis theory until more evidence has been gathered, ‘The ants could simply be living on natural detritus, crisp and biscuit crumbs and so on which have collected in the epidermal valleys. They could even be farming fungi in the hot and humid conditions between buttock cheeks. A camera up there would make for fantastic television,’ he suggested.