The ancient structure, which was found to be abandoned, is the oldest termite mound ever to have been dated, but another has been dated to 750 years old, showing the resilience of the mounds, which can withstand fire.
The discovery in the Miombo woodland area of central Africa, suggests that nature’s engineers use the same mound for hundreds if not over one thousand years.
A stock image of the central African woodland is shown The oldest mound is thought to have been abandoned by the insects some decades ago, but was occupied some 500 years ago during a warm spell in the region.
A stock image of an interestingly-shaped termite mound by a road in the Democratic Republic of Congo is shown J Scott Turner of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse told National Geographic that there can be around 33lbs (15kg) of the small insects living in a typical mound, which move on average 550lbs (249kg) of soil and several tons of water every year to maintain their nests.
Experts surmise that termites living in the Miombo region can use the same sites for thousands of years.
A stock image showing a village in the Miombo woodland of Mozambique is pictured above.
The woods are being damaged by logging, fires and charcoal production (also shown) ‘Personal friendships are so important to the Queen...
In future, similar autonomous machines could be used to build full-scale structures for human use, possibly in dangerous settings where it might be difficult for humans to work from earthquake shelters and underwater habitats on Earth to bases on the moon or Mars.'The key inspiration we took from termites is the idea that you can do something really complicated as a group, without a supervisor and secondly that you can do it without everybody discussing explicitly what's going on, but just by modifying the environment,' said U. computer scientist Professor Radhika Nagpal, from Harvard University.
Inside each mound is a complex system of tunnels and shafts and unlike human builders, termites need no detailed blueprints from which to work, instead relying on a process called ‘stigmergy’ - a kind of implicit communication.