It’s a construction project unlike any on our planet: it’s the size of Great Britain, and has been going on for 3,820 years, since the Pyramids were first built.
But no humans have been involved in the huge landscape of 200 million mounds in Brazil – it was all built by termites.
Researchers in northeast Brazil sampled soil in 11 locations and found that some of it began nearly four thousand years ago.
Each mound is actually waste from a huge subterranean tunnel network where the termites have laboured for thousands of years.
Professor Stephen Martin of the University of Salford said, ‘These mounds were formed by a single termite species that excavated a massive network of tunnels to allow them to access dead leaves to eat safely and directly from the forest floor.’
‘The amount of soil excavated is over 10 cubic kilometres, equivalent to 4,000 great pyramids of Giza, and represents one of the biggest structures built by a single insect species.’
‘It’s incredible that, in this day and age, you can find an ‘unknown’ biological wonder of this sheer size and age still existing, with the occupants still present.’
Co-author Roy Funch of Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana in Brazil said, ‘This is apparently the world’s most extensive bioengineering effort by a single insect species.