Silver hairs keep desert ants cool

Saharan silver ants give new meaning to survival of the fittest. The insects live in one of the hottest deserts on Earth, where temperatures on the surface of the desert sands can reach 70°C. To survive, the ants must keep their bodies below a critical temperature of 53.6°C. Researchers report online today in Science that the ants do so with the help of a coating of silver hairs on their backs and sides (above). 

Science| DOI:  10.1126/science.aac6863

Photo courtesy of Ramy Maalouf © 2012

This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.

  • Human Rights Watch reports on widespread abuse and torture inside Libyan prisons.
  • Fighters of Libyan origin return from Mali.
  • Progress was hailed in peace negotiations in Mali after government militias agreed to leave the town of Menaka and several arrest warrants against CMA rebels were lifted.
  • Ten officials kidnapped from the Tunisian Consulate in Libya have been released after negotiations. 
  • A leaked UN report details Morocco’s lobbying efforts, including intercepting communications, to get the UN to ignore humanitarian conditions in Western Sahara.
  • An Egyptian court upheld the death sentence for former leader Mohammed Morsi.
  • The US claimed an airstrike killed Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, but a Saharan militant group is denying the claim.
  • Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir jetted out of South Africa on Monday, leaving the country hours before a court ruled the government had to arrest him based on a standing ICC arrest warrant.
  • The US has faltered in efforts to bring Omar al-Bashir to justice.
  • A government offensive in South Sudan last month left 129 children brutally murdered, many raped.
  • A suspected Boko Haram attack on Wednesday night in Niger killed 38 people. Chad carried out airstrikes against Boko Haram inside Nigeria.
  • A sack full of homemade bombs found at an abandoned Boko Haram camp exploded, killing 63 people.
  • Kenya has issued a reward for the capture of a German national fighting for al-Shabaab.
  • An al-Shabaab suicide attack in central Somalia was foiled Thursday.
  • The Central African Republic will hold elections in October.
  • A new report investigates the “shadow economy” of CAR’s armed groups.
  • None of the fewer than 200 Syrian rebels in the US training program have graduated.
  • Rebels in the south in Quneitra have launched an offensive close to Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
  • The Islamic State lost control of the crucial Syrian town of Tal Abyad to the Kurds.
  • Although the OPCW has touted success in the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons this week, new descriptions are surfacing of government use of chlorine gas in its makeshift bombs. 
  • The fuel embargo imposed by the Islamic State is harming medical centers, grounding ambulances and shuttering businesses.
  • The New York Times maps Islamic State-inspired attacks around the world.
  • Hezbollah attacks on a Lebanese border town reportedly killed two Islamic State commanders and a handful of other IS fighters.
  • The year-old Palestinian unity government has resigned.
  • An American airstrike in Yemen killed the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – Nassir al-Wuhayshi. He has been succeeded by Qassim al-Raymi. The CIA claims not to have had prior knowledge that he was among the militants targeted.
  • Following the strike, AQAP executed two men accused of spying for the US.
  • An airstrike inside Yemen last Friday hit the Old City of Sana’a – a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • A fistfight broke out at Yemeni peace talks in Geneva.
  • Coordinated Islamic State car bombs at mosques and the Houthi headquarters in Sana’a killed and injured 50 this Wednesday.
  • The Pentagon transferred six detainees from Guantánamo, where they had each spent 13 years, to Oman.
  • An Al Qaeda branch has posted images on Twitter of hostage Warren Weinstein before his death in an airstrike this year (they have not been authenticated yet).
  • A cigarette smuggler tells the Associated Press about life under the Islamic State.
  • A fake battle, invented online by a London man, fools Islamic State supporters.
  • A Marine sergeant was convicted for a second time on retrial for the murder of an Iraqi civilian in 2006.
  • The Taliban overran parts of the Musa Qala district of Helmand province in Afghanistan.
  • The Afghan Taliban have found common purpose with their former enemy Iran, teaming up to fight the Islamic State.
  • The Afghan Ministry of Education may have faked school enrollment numbers to get more funding.
  • According to the UN, war, violence and persecution have made one out of every 122 people on the planet a refugee. 
  • Putin opened a military theme park called Patriot Park. At the opening of the park, he announced the addition of forty new intercontinental ballistic missiles to Russia’s arsenal. 
  • The US bolsters its defenses of American cities against Russian missiles. It also plans to store heavy artillery in Eastern Europe.
  • NATO’s “defense boost” is the largest since the Cold War ended.
  • A Russian army officer accused of fighting with the Taliban has come in front of a US court.
  • Slovenia detained Kosovo’s former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, saying they acted on a warrant from Serbia.
  • Polish prosecutors have asked the US for a full, unredacted copy of the Senate torture report as part of an investigation into detainee abuse at a black site inside Poland. The prosecutors say the US has been ignoring the request.
  • An American official has been included on the review panel established to assess the future of the British military.
  • The VA has extended benefits for Agent Orange exposure, opening up eligibility to Air Force reservists once denied the benefits. 

Photo: Quneitra, Syria. Free Syrian Army fighters fire rockets toward government positions. Alaa Al-Faqir/Reuters

So I found a silver ant in our bedroom. I was so intrigued by it that I decided to look it up in the net. It’s actually called a Saharan Silver Ant. But why the flip would it go to the Philippines? Is it on an adventure or something because I smell a novel and a movie coming up 

  • Chaabi Dialna -

Abdelhamid Ababsa - Hiziya - (Algeria - Bedouin music Sahrawi style [Saharan]) VA Musique & Traditions - La Musique Saharienne Club du disques - Arabe AAA 034 - P.1991