Dracula ant’s killer jaws are nature’s fastest mover at 200mph

Move aside cheetah and peregrine falcon, there’s a simple new contender for that title of fastest animal that is known: the Dracula ant. Scientists have discovered the small tropical insect can snap its mandibles at up to 90 metres the second (much more than 200mph), the easiest animal movement on record.

The ants utilize explosive motion to address, stun and kill prey, and that is then fed to their larvae.

“They’re cruising around underground and when they encounter something like a centipede or simply a termite they are able to smack them with the mandibles to kill or stun them,” said Andrew Suarez, a creature biology professor at the University of Illinois, who led the procedure. “They might sting it to help expand incapacitate it and they make it here we are at the nest.”

The species, Mystrium camillae, has been able to have highly specialised appendages. However, scientists made it possible to ascertain the complete speed with the snapping motion simply the arrival of high-speed video technology within the last A decade’s. The scientists also used x-ray imaging technology to observe the ants’ anatomy in three dimensions to increase appreciate how the movement works.

The observations showed that Dracula ants increase their mandibles by pressing the guidelines together, spring-loading all of them internal stresses. Eventually, when one mandible slides all over the other, each is released, from a similar motion to folks clicking their fingers.

The Dracula ant’s motion is different from that witnessed in trap-jaw ants, who were previously considered to develop the world’s fastest snapping jaws. Those ants originate from a receptive position and suddenly snap shut as a mousetrap.

“Even among ants that power-amplify their jaws, the Dracula ants are unique,” said Adrian Smith, with the Museum of Natural Sciences, who was a co-author with the study. “Instead utilizing three different parts for that spring, latch and lever arm, the three are combined during the mandible.”

Dracula ants are mainly perfectly located at the tropics in Africa and Asia. They live in large colonies underground, or inside tree trunks, might be rarely seen. Their name derives using their unusual feeding habits, that concerns a variety of non-destructive cannibalism. The adult ants can’t process solid food; instead, they feed prey on their larvae and chew holes within the larvae and drink their blood. Scientists call the arrangement a “social stomach”.

In future the group plan to make better observations with the ants in working order within their habitat. “Their biology, that capture prey and defend their nests, is wanting description,” Smith said.

The findings are published inside journal Royal Society Open Science.


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