A giant abandoned termite mound was found in the Miombo forest area, located in central Africa. Scientists have predicted that the termite mound may be over 2,200 years old, making it the oldest termite structure ever dated.
Another nearby mound was studied to ensure that the mound was not classified as an anomaly. This mound is at least 750 years old. Both mounds were built by a termite species known as Macrotermes falciger. These termites are native to the Lubumbashi region of Upper Katanga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as reported by BBC World.
The age of this ancient mound suggests that termites use the same mound for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. New generations of termites continue to use these mounds even after the previous generation dies off. These mounds allow the termites to collect food and water, and protect the colony from natural disasters such as fires.
Using the age of the material used to create the structure, scientist date the large mound between 2119 and 2335 years old. The smaller mound is thought to be between 684 and 796 years old. According to the reports, termites regularly used these mounds 800 to 500 years ago during an especially warm season in the region.
Termite mounds are vastly complicated, and include a complex system of tunnels and rooms. This allows air to ventilate and keeps the mound cool. Some mounds even include tall, enclosed chimneys and vents. A typical mound can take four to five years to complete, but need to be constantly rebuilt in the event of a heavy downpour.
There has been a previous claim of a termite mound that was thought to be greater than 4,000 years old. However, recent evidence has shown that this structure was not under termite control, but was instead caused by soil erosion.