Longhorn crazy ants have been steadily spreading throughout the world, somehow outcompeting against other ant species despite the fact that their small populations should result in a lot of inbreeding, which should cause genetic defects and thus prevent this species from successfully spreading. However, scientists have observed that there are a lot of incestuous relationships in this ant species, but for some reason the ants are able to avoid spreading the usual genetic defects that come with inbreeding.

How do they manage this? Well, it turns out that even though the queen ant is forced to mate with her siblings due to the colony’s limited population, she is able to produce genetic clones of herself and the ants she mates with in order to avoid producing those pesky genetic problems. When the queen wants to make another daughter queen ant all she has to do is lay an egg that is her genetic doppelganger, meaning that she takes none of the genetic traits from her mate even though he helps produce this offspring. When she produces a reproductive male, she is able to cancel out her own genes and make offspring that is the genetic clone of her mate. This handy trick means that an ant population forced to inbreed is still able to flourish and spread.

What do you think of these crazy incestuous ants? Do you think humans would practice inbreeding if they knew how to avoid producing the usual genetic defects?

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