A New Genus of Ant

Opamyrma hungvuong Yamane et al 2008

It isn’t every day we get a whole new genus. In this week’s Zootaxa, Seiki Yamane, Tuan Vet Bui, and Katsuyuki Eguchi report the discovery of Opamyrma, an amblyoponine ant from central Vietnam. The full article is behind Zootaxa’s subscription barrier, but detailed specimen photos are already up at Antweb.

The ant subfamily Amblyoponinae is an ancient group. They diverged from the other ant lineages prior to the evolution of trophallaxis food-sharing behavior, and have instead adopted an odd and seemingly brutal way of passing food around the colony. Adult ants pierce the skin of the larvae with their jaws and drink the haemolymph. This behavior has lead to the common name “Dracula Ants” for the Amblyoponinae, and it is likely that Opamyrma engages in it as well.

Where the natural history is known, amblyoponine species are predatory. Judging from the stinger, Opamyrma must be too.

source: Yamane et al. 2008. Opamyrma hungvuong, a new genus and species of ant related to Apomyrma (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Amblyoponinae). Zootaxa 1767: 55-63.

7 thoughts on “A New Genus of Ant”

  1. Roberto Keller

    If it were me, I would had included the new species within Apomyrma thus adjusting the diagnosis a little bit: after all the characters suggest that it is sister to Apomyrma stygia, rather than a parallel development towards an “Apomyrma-like” grade (to use the pre-cladistic terminology). Congeneric species would have also remarked the interesting biogeographic aspect of these ants.

    But I guess generic boundaries within Amblyoponines will have to wait until we deal with the increasingly evident paraphyletic Amblyopone genus.

    P.S. It still amaze me each time how much information one can get now from the digital pictures provided in the publications now.

  2. On the left profile view you have: the head; then a large first thoracic segment with the forelegs; then a fused section that combines the 2nd, 3rd and first abdominal segment and bears the mid- and hindlegs; then the second abdominal segment (petiole); and then the visible external abdominal segments III to VII (gaster).

    What makes this ant (and Apomyrma) look strange is the pronounce, grooved articulation between the first thoracic segment and the rest of the mesosoma.

  3. An entirely new genus, or something that has been around a while and only now noticed? One would mean we haven’t been so observant, the other, that things are changing.

  4. Which candidate does this genus support for Democratic candidate for the nomination?

    I’m glad there’s something else to pay attention to besides a strange mix of emotional and intellectual behavior called politics.

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