Ancient Ants

Posted on September 17, 2008  Comments (3)

Blind “Ant From Mars” Found in Amazon

An ant so unlike all other living ants that it was given an extraterrestrial name has been discovered in the Amazon rain forest, biologists announced today. The tiny new species is the only known surviving member of an ant lineage that separated from the main family more than a hundred million years ago, DNA analysis revealed.

The pale, eyeless ant appears to be adapted to living underground, possibly surfacing at night to forage. Its long mandibles suggest that the 0.08-inch-long (2-millimeter-long) animal is a predator, most likely of soft-bodied creatures such as termite larvae.

Christian Rabeling, a graduate student at the University of Texas in Austin, found a single specimen of the new species, thought to be a worker ant, in tropical soils near Manaus, Brazil. Rabeling’s team named the new creature Martialis heureka—”Martialis” means “of Mars

The new species’ genes suggest that it broke away from the main ant family before the origin of all other living ant groups, which include 20 subfamilies that together contain more than 12,000 species.

Related: New Ant Species Discovered in the Amazon Likely Represents Oldest Living Lineage of AntsSwimming AntsSymbiotic relationship between ants and bacteria

3 Responses to “Ancient Ants”

  1. kouji
    September 18th, 2008 @ 5:12 am

    wow. hopefully, we’ll find a way to slow down the rate at which we kill of ecosystems, so that more finds like these, if they exist, can be made.

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Darwin’s Beetles Still Producing Surprises
    February 7th, 2009 @ 9:40 pm

    An interesting feature in these trimorphic species is that one of the three male forms was always female-like in morphology. These gamma males may thus employ a tactical deception to evade combat and earn sexual encounters…

  3. Miner
    June 13th, 2017 @ 4:02 pm

    Incredible. I missed this when this discovery was made. Proff that we have only identified a small percentage of the species out there.

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