Trap-Jaw Ants’ Mandibles are Fastest-Moving Predatory Appendages on Earth
Trap-jaw ants’ mandibles are the fastest-moving predatory appendages on earth. The ant is quite famous for killing its prey in a matter of few seconds.
A novel research has found a new use of these mandibles, which is an escaping tool. It uses them to move way when a predator is nearby. Earlier, researchers have seen the use of these mandibles, but at that time they were not sure whether it was a defensive strategy or not.
But with the new research, it has been confirmed that the move could help the ants to escape perilous scenarios. They used them to prevent from becoming a prey into a pit made by antlions, an ant-eating insect resembling a dragonfly.
The researchers affirmed that running out of the pit was the option with the ants to escape from the predator. But when this option was not successful then ants fell back on jaw-loaded catapulting and were successful 15% of the time.
Biologist Fredrick Larabee affirmed that when ant falls into the pit, it makes an effort to escape but the sand slips beneath its feet. This makes them more vulnerable to become prey of the antlions.
“The ants were able to jump out of the pits about 15 percent of the time in their encounters with antlions. But when we glued their mandibles shut before dropping them in the pits, they couldn't jump at all. It cut their survival rate in half”, affirmed Larabee.
The researchers conducted lab experiment in which they noticed that trap ant specie either escaped by running fast or used mandible-powered escape maneuver. The researchers said that it is quite a distinct behaviour that these ants have to angle their head down to 90 degrees and decides to hit the ground.
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