1 Tahrcountry Musings: Prehistoric ant discovered in Amazon rainforest

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Prehistoric ant discovered in Amazon rainforest

An ancient ancestor of ants has been discovered living in the Amazon rainforest. The discovery was made by evolutionary biologist Christian Rabeling of the University of Texas at Austin, USA. The new ant is named Martialis heureka, which translates in to "ant from Mars," .This is to highlight the ant’s characteristics never before recorded. Ants evolved 120m years ago from wasp-like ancestors and quickly adapted to living in soil, trees and leaf litter. This is the first time that a new subfamily of ants with living species has been discovered since 1923. The discovery will help biologists better understand the biodiversity and evolution of ants. Tabeling says "This discovery hints at a wealth of species, possibly of great evolutionary importance, still hidden in the soils of the remaining rainforests,” The study appears in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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