Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Meet the vampire ant from hell with huge jaws and a metal horn

10 September 2017

By Josh Gabbatiss
A newly discovered species of prehistoric “hell ant” had anatomy that lived up to its demonic name, including a lethal feeding apparatus reinforced with metal.
Hell ants are an extinct lineage from the Cretaceous Period. Instead of regular mouthparts, they had upward-facing blades.
No living species have such facial anatomy. However, the hairs around hell ants’ mouths are reminiscent of hairs on modern trap-jaw ants that cause their mouths to snap shut when triggered. This has led to speculation that the hell ants’ mouthparts worked in a similar way.
Some also had a horn-like appendage that jutted out over their tusk-like mandibles. This includes the new species, Linguamyrmex vladi, which Phillip Barden at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark and his colleagues found preserved in 98-million-year-old amber.

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