New research has been released by scientists that claims there are a colossal 20quadrillion ants currently living on Earth.
With the world's population standing at 7.8billion that equates to a staggering 2.5million ants per person.
The study has been conducted by boffins from Julius Maximilians University in the German city of Wurzberg with its lead author Sabine Nooten stating: "According to our estimates, the global ant population is 20 x 1015 – that is, 20 quadrillion animals. That is a 20 with 15 zeros, which is hard to grasp and appreciate."
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In a separate statement, the study's researchers pointed out: "Knowledge on the distribution and abundance of organisms is fundamental to understanding their roles within ecosystems and their ecological importance for other taxa.
"Such knowledge is currently lacking for insects, which have long been regarded as the 'little things that run the world'.
"Even for ubiquitous insects, such as ants, which are of tremendous ecological significance, there is currently neither a reliable estimate of their total number on Earth nor of their abundance in particular biomes or habitats."
The team's findings were based on an analysis of 489 previous studies on ants, which spanned every continent, major biomes and habitats.
They also estimated that the 20q ants boast a combined biomass of 12 megatons of dry carbon.
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"That exceeds the combined biomass of wild birds and mammals and corresponds to about 20% of humanity's biomass," explained the study's co-author, Patrick Schultheiss.
Ants are believed to exist in all of Earth's habitats, aside from the North and South Pole, with the research indicating that their numbers are highest in the tropics, forests and arid regions.
Areas with more humans, meanwhile, boast fewer ants, according to the study.
On the importance of the six-legged insect, Schultheiss added: "Per hectare, ants move up to 13 tons of soil mass per year, so they have a great influence on maintaining the nutrient cycle and also play a decisive role in the distribution of plant seeds."
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