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How life span–shifting insects are reshaping aging research

Bees, termites, and ants can teach us a lot about cooperation, communication, and the skills that keep societies together. But these so-called social insects may also hold secrets that could reshape our understanding of human aging. Many social insects exhibit surprising aging characteristics that cause their life spans to shift depending on their roles. Following the death of a queen Indian jumping ant, for example, workers fight for the right to transform into an egg-laying ant. Much is at stake: The life expectancy of an egg layer is five times longer than that of a worker’s. Though fruit flies, mice, and nematodes now dominate aging research, some scientists say social insects’ aging behaviors could help dissect aging mechanisms in humans. This video will take you deep into the catacombs—er, honeycombs—of insect aging.