The world’s smallest diamond thief was thwarted during a heist where an ant tried to make off with a diamond back in 2018. Though bold, the effort wasn’t terribly thought through, taking place in full view of a person working with several gemstones in full light – but we commend this tiny insect’s brazenness all the same.
A rough eyeball estimate would put the diamond at around 0.5 carats, meaning depending on the quality it could fetch around $1,000. Ants do collect things to incorporate into their colonies, but while it’s a delightful idea that this particular insect had big dreams for interior decoration, the more likely explanation for the heist is that the diamond was coated in something that led the ant to believe it was something else.
Ants are famously good foragers and will trek vast distances into their environment so that they can return home with precious loot. As well as going in search of snacks, ants will carry waste and dead ants out of the colony to keep things safe.
Some think this may explain why we occasionally find what look like funerals laid out by ants, with dead insects found surrounded by petals, including other ants and bees. One ant farm owner witnessed his colony piling their dead on top of Trix cereal in a very peculiar funerary practice indeed.
Ants also collect items they need for the colony. One incredible example is leaf-cutter ants, which don’t actually eat leaves themselves but carry them back to their underground lairs to feed the fungal overlord that keeps them stocked up on edible mushrooms. The fungus actually directs the ants where to go, and when plants respond by loading up their leaves with harmful fungus, it tells them to move on to a different botanical victim.
Ants are renowned for being able to carry objects much bigger than themselves – but when they cooperate as a group, they can move even larger chunks of food back to their nest. Research has found that this is achieved thanks to “scout” ants who join in the lifting, and direct the group by subtly pulling in the right direction. Rather than resisting, all the other ants follow suit.
Ants are also eco-warriors that ferry seeds around, helping trees to disperse. So, while some rogues choose a life of crime, for the most part, they’re very hard, honest working animals.
[H/T: Live Science]