Ants Never Have Traffic Jams: What We Can Learn About Collective Problem Solving

Every day animals make decisions: what to eat, where to go, and how to survive. Many of these decisions help us solve individual problems, but sometimes they allow us to solve problems collectively. Collective problem solving is the act of making a group decision without a leader. Humans do this regularly—it’s the essence of democracy. But amazingly, scientists also find this behavior in animals, even insects! At CU Boulder, graduate student Helen McCreery and her team studied collective problem solving among ants. By studying this behavior in ants, scientists can learn a lot about the animal kingdom as a whole.

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