Stirring the pot

Surely one of the most charismatic ants to walk the earth:

Nothomyrmecia– or is it Prionomyrmex?- macrops
South Australia

Most myrmecologists know this charming Australian ant as Nothomyrmecia. But a minority opinion, largely ignored, places it with an earlier genus Prionomyrmex from Baltic amber.

Prionomyrmex janzeni, from Baltic amber

The disagreement hinges on the interpretation of which morphological features are ancestral, and which are derived. DNA sequences are of little help resolving disputes involving fossils.

I know many ant taxonomists read this blog- what do you think?

6 thoughts on “Stirring the pot”

  1. I don’t know much about ants — is the pedicel / petiole always held vertically on this species and if so why ? It seems strange enough to mean something.

  2. Just read the paper and still don’t know for sure. Nothomyrmecia does seem more derived in its nocturnality, big eyes, and pale coloring, perhaps supporting Cesare’s contention that loss of A3 posterior constriction is apomorphic.

  3. Can’t say I’m an ant taxonomist, but they sure look different to me. The thing that strikes me the most is the petiole and postpetiole in Nothomyrmecia vs. Prionomyrmex… the postpetiole is more constricted in Prionomyrmex vs. in Nothomyrmecia. I do agree that the widening of the postpetiole is a derived trait, and I think that’s good enough to support the separation of the two.

    Basically, Prionomyrmex looks at first glance almost like a Myrmecia with Nothomyrmecia jaws, and though I don’t mean that in terms of “missing link” stuff at all, I think it’s enough to separate Nothomyrmecia from Prionomyrmex.

  4. Marc "Teleutotje" Van der Stappen

    It is a discussion with on one side Baroni Urbani (2000, 2003 and 2005) and on the other side Bolton (in his catalogue/synopsis), Ward & Brady (2003), Heterick (2009), Shattuck (1999 and his website), … I would prefer the second group and keep the name Nothomyrmecia and I think most research confirms this. Prionomyrmex and Nothomyrmecia side by side in one tribe. I think Ward & Brady 2003 are putting more proofs in the discussion than Baroni Urbani 2000 or 2005.

Leave a Reply