Factropolis -- A new fun fact every day!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Every ant on Earth, queued up in single file, would form a line long enough to wrap around the equator more than 1,000 times.

See also:
- Canadian Museum of Nature: Ants

keywords: nature, ant, extermination, ants marching, insect, pest, trivia, fun fact, fact of the day


  • Oh really? Just 1000 times?

    Earth's diameter is 12,756.2 km at the equator, which means that its equatorial circumferance is given by:

    C = pi x diameter

    C = (3.14159)(12,756.2 km) = 40,074.8 km.

    If you had a line of ants that wrapped around the equator 1000 times, the line would be 40,074,800 km long, or about 27% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

    That's a lot of ants. But there ARE a lot of ants on Earth. Could there be enough to make this claim true?

    According to Wikipedia, the largest ant species averages 3.3 cm long. I couldn't find an average size for the smallest ant species, but it doesn't really matter.

    If we assume an average ant size of 1.5 cm, then it would take more than 2.67 TRILLION ants to make that line. That's about 411 ants for every human on Earth (assuming a human population of 6.5 billion). Could there really be THAT many ants?

    Actually, there are more. Many, many more, according to Harvard biologist and ant expert E. O. Wilson. Wilson gives an estimate of 10 - 100 QUADRILLION ants living on Earth. Even on the conservative side, that's 3,743 times more than the estimated number of ants I got from Factropolis's estimate.

    This is a new leaf for Factropolis. Whenever they invent a "fact" comparing two figures, they generally grossly overestimate one of the figures in order to make it sound surprising. This time, they have ignorantly UNDERestimated the world's ant population.

    The world's ant population would not encircle the globe just over a thousand times...if any of the estimates I made were valid, they would encircle the globe over 3.7 MILLION times.

    Go ahead and say it: 3.7 million IS more than 1000, which is what Factropolis said. Well, yes, but I bet nobody read this "fact" and thought: Hmmm, when they say "more than 1000, they probably mean in the millions. The "fact" is still misleading, if not outright inaccurate.

    Bear in mind that I estimated an average ant length of 1.5 cm. The average could be shorter than that, but it won't change much. Even if the average ant length is only 0.15 cm (one-tenth of my original estimate), that still makes Factropolis's number about 374 times too low.

    Factropolis's motto: "Fact-checking is for losers!"

    By Anonymous Ant-Man, at May 18, 2008 12:38 AM  

  • amen

    By Blogger Nicodemus, at February 25, 2009 4:08 PM  

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