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How Do Nature’s Hive Minds Think As One?

Have you ever marveled at a school of fish, swirling in a gigantic ball with the grace of some united mega-organism? What about a flock of birds that can react as one, even though you know all the birds can’t possibly be reacting to the same thing? Nature’s swarms seem to equal more than the sum of their parts, able to move, act, and think as one. But how do these hive minds work?

In my latest Because Science, I’m taking a look at three notable hive minds: honey bees, starlings, and locusts. In each case, researchers have identified perplexingly simple rules that can guide tens, hundreds, or billions of creatures. Sometimes it’s as easy as looking at your neighbor for direction, sometimes it’s cannibalism.

For some creepy hive-mind fiction, head to iTunes to watch Nerdist’s first feature film release, Nerdist Presents: The Hive on-demand.

Art in this episode by mangaka Sara Mayhew.

Check out my last video on the most important theory in Rick and Morty, subscribe to this playlist to stay current with the show, buy a Because Science shirt, and follow me on Twitter to give me a suggestion for the next episode!

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