Starting Point

“What is a Zompopo?” To answer that question, why not formulate perhaps a more profound one: Are you a Zompopo? And let’s hope that, after reading theses pages, you will be able to answer that question for yourself. What follows (in no particular order) is a global account of what is known about Zompopos, and suggestions for what is yet to be learned, but as far as answers… That’s for you, individually, to formulate. Here are a few for you to consider: A Zompopo is, or could be, a dance, knuckles on the head harder than nudges, a gecko, an ant, a children’s song, a rock group, an internet chat room screen name, a scientist, you or I, etc., etc.  Zompopos are known throughout the world as:

Akêkê or Ysaú in Paraguay

Bachaco in Venezuela and Trinidad

Bibijaguas in Cuba

Blattschneider in Germany

Coquis in Peru

Mochomo in Mexico

Quenquéns, Saúva, or Sepe in Brazil

Teken by local Indians in Guatemala

Wee-wee in Honduras

Atta Cephalotes in the world of biology.

We assert that according to physical laws, in general, Zompopos are: True by definition, as there have never been repeatable contradicting observations of them; Universal by existence, as they appear to apply everywhere in the universe; Simple by accessibility, in that they are typically expressed in terms of a single mathematical equation; Absolute by constancy, in that nothing in the universe appears to affect them; Eternal by course, as they are unchanged since first discovered or rather they appear to be unchanged since the beginning of the universe, and it is presumed that they will remain unchanged in the future; Omnipotent by virtue and vice, as everything in the universe apparently must comply with them; Omniscient by creation, as the behavior of everything in the universe is automatically and immediately "known" to the them.  In essence, Zompopos could be us; or there is, or should be, a little Zompopo in all of us.

  The Zompopos Project puts forward the Zompopo as a symbol to bring us, inhabitants of the earth, closer to each other and to the earth by finding common ground via needs, culture, language and ideals. But wait: “Why Zompopos?” you might ask.  Aside from the fact that they can carry loads weighing up to twelve times their own weight (amazing little things ah!), let’s take a serious look.

For centuries now, in the Island of Ometepe in Nicaragua, they have been dancing “El baile del Zompopo” and you can read about this ritual in a most interesting article by Richard Leonardi at:

This article will tell you a few things about Zompopos, for example:

  • “The Leaf Cutter (Atta cephalotes) has been practicing agriculture for more than 10 million years, while mankind managed to master cultivation just 10 thousand years ago. The Leaf Cutter, or Zompopo, is nature's original farmer and one of the most socially advanced insects on the planet.”
  • “An ancient Maya legend relates how the Leaf Cutter Ant helped the Maya civilization discover corn. It is a mythical variation of the Leaf Cutter miracle Mayans and other Mesoamerican cultures observed daily in the forest. The legend tells of how the Maya observed the Zompopo using his razor jaws to extract corn kernels from a secret subterranean chamber. The woodpecker and quetzal were instigated to help open the underground hold of Zompopo corn for the Maya. Literally taken the story signifies that thanks to the Leaf Cutter Ant, with help from the woodpecker and quetzal, the Maya discovered corn. Though the underlying moral could be that the Zompopo introduced organized farming to the Maya and the subsequent cultivation of corn made their great civilization possible.”
  • “Though indigenous groups gave special status to the Zompopo, it was not until the 19th century, in Nicaragua, that cold-climate outsiders finally took a closer look at this unique animal. British naturalist Thomas Belt in his landmark 1874 book ‘A Naturalist in Nicaragua’ observed Zompopos in his garden in Chontales, Nicaragua. …Thomas Belt's ‘A Naturalist in Nicaragua’, won lofty praise from Charles Darwin, who called it ‘the best of all natural history journals which have ever been published’.”

A. San Juan, in his website “The Lurker’s Guide to Leaf Cutter Ants”, explains “Why Leafcutter Ants are Interesting”. To cite some of his points:

    -Leafcutter ants are the only animals (besides humans) that take fresh plant matter and grow their own food from it.

    -Leafcutter ants use antibiotics from strains of bacteria to combat alien fungi that invade their "farms".

    -Leafcutter ants are THE dominant herbivores in the neotropics, with the amount of vegetable matter being cut estimated at an astonishing 12-17% of annual leaf production.

    -Leafcutter ants utilize advanced waste management systems that prevent the spread of disease and pathogens in their vast underground cities.

    -Atta large nests are architectural ant marvels, with some nests descending 6 meters deep, and with air circulation being controlled by the movement of warm air, flowing into the outer perimeter nest holes and out through the center holes.

    -The Atta have the largest size differential in workers right after the Pheidologeton. According to 'The Ants' the head width varies 8-fold from smallest to largest, and the dry weight varies 200-fold...

    -The estimated populations for mature Atta colonies number in the millions (up to 8 million in some estimates)!

    -The large soldiers are so tough they can cut through leather!

    -Their colonies are models of efficiency, with the highly polymorphic wokers each optimized for particular sets of tasks.