Published: Sat, December 15, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Australian ant sets fastest animal record

Australian ant sets fastest animal record

According to a recent study from a team of researchers from the University of IL, a species of ant known as the Dracula ant has the fastest jaw science has ever seen-even faster than the quick punch of the mantis shrimp.

While they are less headline-grabbing than cheetahs, invertebrates like termites and ants have the fastest movements in the animal kingdom due to their spring-loaded jaws.

Specifically, the "Dracula ant" native to Southeast Asia and Australia, which can move its mandibles over 200 miles per hour.

"Even among ants that power-amplify their jaws, the Dracula ants are unique".

Unlike trap ants, whose powerful jaws close with a snap from an open position, Dracula ants activate their jaws by pressing the tips together, charging them with internal tensions that are released when one jaw slides over the other, similar to the snap of a human finger.

"The high accelerations of Mystrium strikes likely result in high-impact forces necessary for predatory or defensive behaviors", the researchers wrote in a report of their findings in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

While it can't run as fast as a cheetah, that bite is the fastest animal movement on record and 5,000 times quicker than the blink of an eye. They practice a sort of "non-destructive cannibalism", chewing holes into and feeding on the haemolymph (insect "blood") of the colony's own pupae and larvae.

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The movement of the ants' mandibles is so fast that scientists had to use incredibly fast cameras to observe them.

The ants use the explosive motion to attack, stun and kill prey, which is then fed to their larvae.

What distinguishes Dracula ants from trap-jaw ants is the way their mandibles work.

The Dracula ants are no less than unsafe as they use their motion like a mousetrap.

A team of researchers was studying the Dracula ant-scientific name Mystrium camillae-in order to understand how its mandible mechanism works. Moreover, the study's lead author Adrian Smith believes that in the tropical forests of Eurasia can dwell and faster species of ants.

"By comparing the jaw shape of snapping ants with biting ants, we also learned that it only took small changes in shape for the jaws to evolve a new function: acting as a spring".

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