Page last updated at 14:28 GMT, Saturday, 20 February 2010

Weightlifting ant is photo winner

The photograph of the Asian weaver ant carrying a 500mg weight
Ants change the size of their feet pads to help them lift

An amazing image of an ant lifting 100 times its body weight has won first prize in a science photography contest.

The image shows an Asian weaver ant hanging upside down on a glass-like surface and holding a 500mg (0.02oz) weight in its jaws.

It was taken by zoology specialist Dr Thomas Endlein of Cambridge University as he researched insects' sticky feet.

Dr Endlein won £700 in photographic vouchers from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

The research shows how ants change the size and shape of the pads on their feet to enable them to carry heavier loads.

He hopes it could help scientists develop better glues.

"The pads on ants' feet are self-cleaning and can stick to almost any type of surface," he said.

"No man-made glue or adhesive system can match this. Understanding how animals can control their adhesive systems should help us come up with clever adhesives in the future."

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