Ant colonies are organized in different castes which fulfil diverse functions like workers and soldiers. Dr Ehab Abouheif and his colleagues has shown that in Pheidole ants, monstrous ‘supersoldiers’ with huge heads and jaws can be created by activating ancient genes. Caste affiliation is determined by temperature, nutrition and the juvenile hormone levels inside the egg during development, therefore ‘supersoldier’ development can be induced in many different species, if treated with the hormone at the right time. Naturally this caste is very rare and can only be found in eight species in Mexico where they help protecting the colony by blocking entrances from invaders with their oversized heads, however the fact that these ‘supersoldiers’ can be induced in different Pheidole species is evidence that a common ancestor of them possessed this trait and that the developmental pathway is retained in all species, but shut down in most. This study has been published in Science.