The Miracle Ant

Thaumatomyrmex atrox

Thaumatomyrmex is a rarely seen spider-like ponerine ant of Neotropical forests. These beguiling insects are specialized predators of spiny polyxenid millipedes, and their pitch-fork jaws allow the ants to keep prey at a distance while carefully stripping away the spines.

photo details:
Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 20D
ISO 100-200, 1/200sec, f/13
twin flash diffused through tracing paper

12 thoughts on “The Miracle Ant”

    1. I could get lost in the labyrinthine twists and turns of insect adaptation into…… oh wait !!….. Silly me, I spent 5 years in such formalized thrall already and all I have to show for it is this silly piece of …… I am truly doomed !!!

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  2. Behold Thaumatomyrmex, the amazing ant! It eats spiny millipedes, is rarely encountered, counts up to ten, and can flip pancakes while patting its head and rubbing its stomach! Haha.

    Anyway, are there more than just this species now? And I’d love to know if they have particularly close relatives outside the genus.

    1. Hi Jason-
      Alex is off in Ecuador playing with the [i]Thaumatomyrmex[/i] or something, so I’ll pitch in here.
      There is more than one species in the genus, but the exact number is still uncertain – 2, 5, more?
      As for its relatives, that’s why I asked about sequencing. Also still uncertain.

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