This worker "Hell Ant " was captured in orange 99 million years ago. He holds a nymph Caputoraptor elegans. NJIT , Chinese Academy of Sciences and University of Rennes, France
Murder hornets . Deadpool "assassin " steals . Zombie Cicadas . This year has been weird when it comes to bugs, but I have some good news. At least the "ants of hell" are extinct.
Haidomyrmecine ("ants of hell") lived during the Cretaceous period. One of these strange little creatures has been discovered trapped in 99 million year old amber. But that's not all. This particular specimen was found with a cockroach-like insect nymph firmly within reach.
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The surprisingcene of a longest attempted predation has opened a window on the past for a team of researchers led by an evolutionary biologist Phillip Barden from the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) . Barden is the primary author of a study on the ants of hell published Thursday in the journal Current Biology .
The newly discovered ant species is called Ceratomyrmex ellenbergeri.
This illustration gives an overview clearer of what's going on with the ant from hellin amber? NJIT, Chinese Academy of Sciences and University of Rennes, France
According to a statement from NJIT , the specimen "presents some of the earliest direct evidence showing how she and other ants from hell once used their lethal characteristics - snapping their bizarre but deadly scythe-shaped mandibles in a vertical motion to pin prey against their horn-shaped appendages. "
Modern ants use lateral movement to grab their prey, which makes ants in hell like this one all the more weird.
An illustrated version of the ant and the nymph gives a clearer view of the ant's unusual physical characteristics and hown which it clings to its prey.
"This fossilized predation confirms our hypothesis about the functioning of the mouthparts of the ants of hell, Barden said . "The only way for prey to to be captured in such an arrangement is that the mouth parts of the ants move up and down in a different direction than all living ants and almost all insects. "
Barden described an unusual oral mechanism as an “ evolutionary experiment. ”The researcher studied and described other types of hell ants, including one horned ant named according to Vlad the Impaler .
These insects ofLong gone are fascinating creatures, and Barden is still curious as to why the ants of Hell died. "I think the fossil insects remind us that even something as ubiquitous and familiar as ants has suffered extinction, " he says.