WEB DESK: In the Miombo woodland area of central Africa, scientists have found an abandoned termite mound that is more than 2200 years old.
That makes the mound the oldest termite structure ever dated, notwithstanding those that have become preserved as fossils.
Another mound studied is at least 750 years old, confirming the ancient mound wasn’t an anomaly. The mounds were built by the termite species Macrotermes falciger, in an area of the Miombo woods in the Lubumbashi region of Upper Katanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to the reports, Termites used it regularly 800 to 500 years back during an especially warm period in the region.
The discovery of a 2000-year-old an ancient mound confirms insects can live in the same homes for millennia.
Termites are remarkable engineers, capable of building mounds standing more than 10 metres high and 15 meters wide at their base
Their mounds regulate heat and the condition of the air inside, and are used to home and raise generations of the tiny social insects.
This samples the ratio of the radioactive Carbon 14 isotope in the soil the termites used to build the mounds. The ratio of the isotope present relative to normal carbon accurately reflects the age of the structure.
Of the four mounds tested, two were active, with termites residing in the top part of the structure. Two were abandoned, and in each category the researchers sampled a smaller mound standing less than 3.5 meters tall, and a larger one more than 6 meters tall.
There have been previous claims of 4000-year-old termite mounds in South Africa, with the insects being identified as the creators of geological structures in the country known as Heuweltjies.
However, recent evidence suggests these features were caused by soil erosion.