99-million-year-old fossil shows bloody feature of ‘hell ants’

key points

  • An amber recovered from Myanmar captured the moment a hell ant caught its prey.
  • This helped researchers confirm how hell ants use their mouthpieces
  • Why they became extinct millions of years later, success remains a mystery

Researchers unveiled a 99-million-year-old amber that captured the moment a “hell ant” understood its prey using its horn-like mandibles. Thanks to Amber, researchers were able to confirm how the hell ants used their unique mandalas.

The ants of hell from the Cretaceous period are among the earliest ants known to science. They are known for their unique scythe-shaped mandibles and have horn-like appendages on their foreheads. These are features that researchers say can no longer be found in any other living species.

Despite identifying 16 Hell ant species to date, they remain a mystery to scientists and are involved in the mystery of how Hell ants used their unique characteristics.

According to study by lead author Philip Phillip of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), “Since the first hell ant was discovered almost a hundred years ago, it is a mystery why these extinct animals are so different from the ants we have today . ” said in News release.

In a new study, a team of researchers from NJIT, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Rennes in France found out more about rare ants. Fossils He was recovered from Myanmar. This particular amber captured at the very moment that a malevolent ant caught the Caputoraptor elgans, a relative of the cockroach.

Bardon says a fossil that exhibits behavior, especially predation, is “extremely rare.” By studying it, researchers were able to confirm how the hell ants used their mouthpieces.

“Our findings corroborate the hypothesis that the ants of hell occupy a variety of modern and other arthropods between horns, which can only be achieved for modern ants by acquiring artifacts of their mouths in the axial plane , ”The researchers wrote.

Compared to modern ants that move their mouthpiece lateral or lateral, hell ants up-and-down their horn-like mandibles and essentially pin their prey against horn-like appendages.

The team was also able to confirm that the infernal ants are one of the earliest branches of the “ant evolutionary tree” and that the elongated horn feature has evolved twice in the infernal ants.

But the question is why the hell ant species went extinct despite being successful for almost 20 million years. Predatory traits of Hell ants are thought to have disappeared during the Cretaceous – Paleogene extinction event about 65 million years ago.

“Over 99% of all species that have survived so far have gone extinct,” Barden said. “As our planet undergoes its sixth mass extinction event, it is important that we work to understand extinct diversity and what may happen if some lineages remain, while others leave. I think That fossil insects are a reminder that are as ubiquitous and familiar as ants. Extinct. ”

study Is published in Current Biology.