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Why do animals form swarms? - Maria R. D'Orsogna

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When many individual organisms come together and move as one entity, that’s a swarm. From a handful of birds to billions of insects, swarms can be almost any size. They have no leader, and members interact only with their neighbors or through indirect cues. Members follow simple rules: travel in the same direction as those around you, stay close and avoid collisions. Maria R. D’Orsogna shares why.

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TED-Ed Animation lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Maria R. D'Orsogna
  • Director Matt Reynolds
  • Script Editor Eleanor Nelsen
  • Animator Matt Reynolds
  • Designer Matt Reynolds
  • Sound Designer Weston Fonger
  • Associate Producer Elizabeth Cox, Jessica Ruby
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Julianna Zarzycki
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Looking for a bit more information on Swarm Theory? Read: The Genius of Swarms from National Geographic. This article also has some interesting ideas about instinct and swarming: From Ants to People, an Instinct to Swarm.

Locust behavior can be quite enthralling. This article from Wired discusses locusts and their swarming methodologies. To see locusts in action, watch Plague of Locusts from BBC.

What have humans learned from studying swarms? Read these articles: How Swarming Drones Could Change the Face of Air Warfare and Robot swarms: scientists work to harness the power of the insect world.

Why Do Animals Swarm? Watch the video from Earth Unplugged. Which animals swarm? Click here to find out. PBS Nature has a wonderful video on swarms and swarming! Watch: "The Gathering Swarms" here.

This article from BBC: Why bees could be the secret to superhuman intelligence discusses Unanimous AI, a tool inspired by swarms of bees.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animation lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Maria R. D'Orsogna
  • Director Matt Reynolds
  • Script Editor Eleanor Nelsen
  • Animator Matt Reynolds
  • Designer Matt Reynolds
  • Sound Designer Weston Fonger
  • Associate Producer Elizabeth Cox, Jessica Ruby
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Julianna Zarzycki