Several times in this column we have discussed the problems of survival for living things in extreme conditions. There are some places on Earth where the temperature on the ground can soar to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Even in that extreme heat there are living things functioning very well in conditions that would be lethal to most forms of life. Recently some attention has been paid to the Saharan silver ant. This native of the Sahara Desert thrives in extreme heat. They avoid predators by coming out of their underground lairs into the full sun and intense heat to scavenge animal carcasses. The picture shows them devouring an engorged camel tick.
Belgian scientists studying the Saharan silver ant with electron microscopes have found the ant's secret weapon. They are covered with hairs of the right density, size, and shape to reflect the light and heat of the sun. When you look at the ant, you see a metallic shine to the insect. We do not see this form of reflection in any other desert creature. The ant stays cool by reflecting a high percentage of the solar energy away from its body.
Like many things seen in nature, engineers are now looking into how this discovery could be used to protect humans from the dangers of extreme heat. Designing something efficient enough to do this would require a deep understanding of optics and the nature of light. Proverbs 8:22 finds wisdom talking about the necessity of God using his wisdom in the creation. Designing the features life needs to survive in the diverse areas of planet Earth tests that wisdom. God’s wisdom shines brightly in the reflected light coming from the Saharan silver ant.