Chemical & Engineering News just published a fascinating piece about how ants let other ants know whether they are dead or not.
Of course, the whole piece starts off with a reference to Monty Python's great "I'm not dead yet" scene from the Holy Grail. It's good to see yet another connection between Monty Python and Chromatography!
Here's an excerpt from the article:
By using thin-layer chromatography and gas chromatography to compare live, just-killed, and dead ants, the team showed that a subset of chemicals disappeared from the ants’ outer covering within one hour of death. From those extracts they identified two rapidly dissipating "do not discard" signaling chemicals—specific isomers of the natural products dolichodial and iridomyrmecin.