as the ant says, it’s better to mate and die than fade away

I for one welcome our insect overlords . . .

Evil knows this has occurred in your life: while watching a nature program, the British-ish narrator comments that the male lion does little more than toss his noble mane, fight over mates, and then barge in on the prey killed by said mates and his cubs, taking the best parts for himself. And, depending on your gender persuasion, you either cast some aspersion on your boyfriend/husband/random guy in your living room to the tune of “Who does that sound like?” . . . or else you settled back, aimed a smirk at your girlfriend/wife/random gal in your living room and said something to the effect of, “Now that’s the life” or “And you say I never do anything to help out around the house?”

Of course, men who die after living a virtuous life are reborn as lions for the above reasons. Whilst women who do the same are rewarded with reincarnation as preying mantises: larger than their male counterparts, which exist only to be mated with and then devoured. Everyone knows this; every religion worth its salt says so, after all.

But is it, in fact, true?

This new research suggests not. In fact, if the Evil’s understanding of life, death, and eternal consequences is correct (the question is rhetorical, naturally), this research suggests the afterlife consists of existence as a Florida harvester ant. To quote the scienticians in question regarding males:

In P. badius societies there is only one social trajectory for males—they are produced about once a year and “do nothing but mate and die,” Smith said.

In the comet-like dream trajectory of a man’s life, “Do nothing but mate and die” sounds pretty good, no? Basically, it’s a more literal interpretation of “It’s better to burn out than fade away.” Plus, who really wants to pick and choose a “social trajectory?” Most guys wouldn’t put on pants each day if society didn’t force them to—much less participate in your fancy-pants “social” scene. So it seems as though the male harvester ants have reached the apogee of male wish fulfillment.

As for the females?

[T]here are three social endpoints: Some, called gynes (pronounced “jines”) are destined to become queen, while others will sort themselves into two kinds of worker ants: the majors and the minors.

On the surface, this might seem less fair, since some females get the short end of the stick in the ol’ anthill. But wait! Wait! Looka this:

If an ant had eaten a more carnivorous diet, farther up the food chain, then its body would have more of a specific type of nitrogen than an ant that had eaten more plant than animal food sources.

It turned out that gynes had the highest nitrogen content, meaning they were eating higher on the food chain than major workers, who in turn had more nitrogen in their diets than minor workers.

So your reward, ladies: not only do you get to eat what you want, but the worse you eat, the higher your social standing is likely to become! Everyone’s a winner!

The Evil is proud to have brought you this startling revelation. Next week: why sinful males are reborn as seahorses, while sinful women are reborn as dragonflies.

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One thought on “as the ant says, it’s better to mate and die than fade away”

  1. Why didn’t you tell me this sooner? With less than six months left before crash-landing, I can’t think of a single thing I could do to correct the trajectory of my last thirty-eight years vis-a-vis acquiring a rebirth as fabulous as the one of which you speak. And believe me, I was up all night wracking my brains trying to come up with one, too.

    However…

    I had toxoplasmosis earlier this year, which is a polite way of saying protozoa took to munching away at my brain. Totaled three cars in two weeks before being declared “neurologically impaired” and having my driver’s license stolen from me. The investigating physician also cited “mild schizoid dementia”, but I’m pretty sure he was just trying to add insult to injury, because if there have been any changes to my mental state whatsoever as a result of the nasty little critters turning my brain into an all-you-can-eat buffet, I have only gotten smarter. Used to be, back before I got sick, I was always doing something, charging forward into the heat of battle before anyone around me could blink, much less mount a protest. After the toxo, I have become such a keen strategist that I can spend days prepping myself mentally to make any move whatsoever, and have become almost obsessive in mulling things over.

    One of the first matters I investigated using my new-found mental prowess was the matter of the afterlife. It occurred to me that reincarnation is something we do thousands of times every moment of our lives. The perfect example is the protozoa themselves. They make a feast of my neurons, and use them as nourishment in furthering their own reproduction. In no time at all, one protozoan turns into millions of the little sonsofbitches, and I am reborn in my own parasites. And that’s to say nothing of the myriad other tiny critters who think I’m the tastiest treat they’ve ever encountered. Granted, I am an extreme example, but this is the condition of every living being in the universe — we are all reincarnated millions of times before breakfast. What we call death is only the speeding up of the process in our utter passivity.

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