Share / Discuss


When it came to ants, Carl Rettenmeyer ’53— like the insects—more than carried his weight.

The late biologist dedicated his career to collecting and photographing more than 100 army ant varieties during trips to the rainforests of Central and South America.

Now, the University of Connecticut, through a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, is giving Rettenmeyer’s work a proper ant-thology.

The university, where Rettenmeyer taught for many years, will clean and digitally catalog 2 million ant specimens and related organisms collected by Rettenmeyer and his wife, Marian, over 50 years.

“There are so many seemingly banal parts of science that don’t get glory but are fundamental,” says Liz Nichols, Swarthmore assistant professor of conservation biology, who herself digitized more than 18,000 dung beetles for the American Museum of Natural History. “Gluing ants’ feet back on is important to maintaining the legacy of a man dedicated to collecting a part of the natural world we may never have access to again.”

Cataloging began this summer, with the first of two exhibits set to open at UConn early next year.