The Big Headed Ant

 

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Source sciencenews.org

Whether it be inside or outside of our homes, ants are everywhere on land. The Pheidole drogon and Pheidole viserion worker ants, found in the rainforests of Papua New Guinea, are ones that have spines protruding from their thoraxes, an intimidating sight for anyone or anything trying to tangle with them. However, researchers suggest that the thorny-looking spine might instead be a muscular support for the ant’s over-sized head, which is used to crush seeds.

Micro‒CT scans of worker ants with larger heads revealed bundles of thoracic muscle fibers within spines just behind their heads. Worker ants with smaller heads did not have muscles in their spines, the researchers report online July 27 in PLOS One. More research is needed to establish the spines’ function and understand why they evolved, Sarnat says. While buff spines may support big heads, hollow spines probably keep predators at bay, the researchers suspect.

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Well, I don’t think predators are the only things that theses ants will keep at bay (considering the ants were named after two dragons in the book and TV series Game of Thrones).

Read the original article here.

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