Ancient Termite Mounds can be Spotted from Space

A team of researchers managed to an area filled with huge termite mounds. The mounds are so big that they can be spotted from space and are spread over a surface that is larger than Great Britain.

It is estimated that the mounds were constructed more than 4, 000 years ago. They are sprinkled over 230, 000 square kilometers (or 88,800 square miles) of tropical forest that hasn’t been affected by human activity.

Initial measurements suggest the highest mounds reach up to 2.5 meters in height (or 8.2 feet) and they are quite wide at 9 meters (or 30 feet). A species of termites called Syntermes dirus has been working on the mounds as millennia passed.

The workers or soldiers of this particularly termite species are thought to be the largest termites in the world and they are considered to be a fine delicacy by some Amazonian tribes. Unlike most termite species Syntermes dirus consume dead leaves that fall on the forest floor. They are quite aggressive and are able to make humans bleed due to their strong bite.

The research also shows that they are able to build incredible soil mounds. They are not used as nets since the termites live underground. The mounds are formed by the excess material that is removed from the tunnels ad brought outside.

They feed only on the dead leaves that that are specific to the catting vegetation, a type of scrubland and thorn forest. Since these leaves only fall once a year the termites build a vast network of tunnels in order to be able to collect the leaves as fast as they can.

As time passed they continued to dig their tunnels and over 200 million mounds appeared. It is estimated that the amount of land that was excavated by the termites is equal to almost 10 million cubic kilometers.

The mounds were detected after the nearby land was cleaned in order to be used as pasture. Researchers are now trying to learn more about termites and their habits.

Laura Modin

Laura Modin has lived in Las Cruces her whole life. Laura has worked as a journalist for nearly a decade having contributed to several large publications including the Yahoo News and The The Santa Fe New Mexican. As a journalist for News Lair, Laura covers national and international developments.

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