7-1 | "Why Don’t Ants Play?"


"Why Don’t Ants Play?"
An Interview with Mark W. Moffett


Mark W. Moffett is a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution and a frequent contributor to and contract photographer for the National Geographic Society, which has dubbed him the “Indiana Jones of Entomology.” While earning his doctorate in organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard University, he studied with Edward O. Wilson, founder of the field of sociobiology, and traveled across Asia studying ants. Subsequently, Moffett served as a curator at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology and held a research position for several years at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition to having written more than one hundred articles, he is the author of The High Frontier: Exploring the Tropical Forest Canopy and Adventures among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions (winner of a National Outdoor Book Award in 2010) and the children’s book Face to Face with Frogs. Moffett has appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien and The Colbert Report and has received the Lowell Thomas Award from the Explorers Club, the Distinguished Explorer Award from the Roy Chapman Andrews Society, Yale University’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism, and Harvard’s Bowdoin Prize for writing. In this interview, Moffett reflects on his study of ants, on their social organization, and on the similarities and differences between these mindless and playless creatures and humans. Key words: ants, army ants, sociobiology, superorganisms