Rene Reaumur, French naturalist, studying ants

Rene Reaumur, French naturalist, studying ants

H418/0164

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Caption

Rene Reaumur. Engraving of Rene Antoine Ferchault de Reaumur (1683-1757), French naturalist and technologist, studying a trail of ants on a tree. Reaumur described the ants' behaviour in the six volumes of his Memoires pour servir a l'histoire des insects (1734-42). This was the first, comprehensive, scientific work on insects. Reamur also worked on animal digestion, proving that it was a chemical process rather than a mechanical one. In 1750 he designed the first egg incubator. It is now known that ant trails are formed because ants follow a path of odorous pheromone chemicals produced by the leading ant. An ant's antennae will respond to as few as 6 pheromone molecules.

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