Philadelphia-based Analog Watch Co. has unveiled its latest product, a watch-like accessory that houses anywhere from three to five harvester ants. The company calls it a "living conversation piece," but it's probably just an April Fool's joke. (Please let it be an April Fool's joke!)

The Ant Watch, which will apparently start shipping in April, comes with a vial of five live ants, sand, a food/water dropper, tweezers, a case opening tool, and a care guide. Users are told to put the ants to sleep by placing them in a fridge for 10 minutes prior to their fateful insertion into the watch. The tweezers are used for the transplant.

According to the manufacturer, the ants only need to be feed with the liquid sugar mixture once or twice a month, and that the ants will live for about four to six months. And because the company guarantees a year's supply of ants, they'll ship a new batch every four months.

At first blush it seems like the Ant Watch is the real deal, but I'm dubious. I'm thinking this is a lead-up to a sophisticated April Fool's reveal. The GIF looks like there's a pre-existing image superimposed on the watch. And the accompanying video is way too cheesy for a company that doubles as an art gallery — which only adds credence to the suggestion that this is some sort of provocative art piece or media stunt. Let's hope so, anyway.

I tried calling Analog Watch Co. for some answers, but I was sent directly to voice mail. Over at The Dodo, however, Stephen Messenger did some digging and spoke to the Ant Watch's creator, Myles Bu.

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"Because it looks so visually startling, it can seem like we're harming the animals, but the fact of the matter is that the ant's life span is not shortened," he told The Dodo, adding that the ants still have nesting material, food, and each other. "Ants obviously aren't as cute and cuddly as mammals are, so people tend to maybe disregard them more, but we do everything we can to care for and respect the animal...This is about having a conversation piece on your wrist, enjoying seeing what they build. Everybody's wrist is going to have a completely different structure," said Bu.

Prank or no prank — while it's true that ants don't live particularly sophisticated lives (i.e. their behavior is largely driven by chemical signaling), we don't know the extent of their subjective awareness or their capacity for such feelings as frustration or claustrophobia. The latest science is showing that insects have brains that are far more sophisticated than previously thought, so it's best that we err on the side of caution and not condemn them to a living death in a horrible prison, worn on our wrists.

[ Via The Dodo ]

Images: Analog Watch Co.