Now this is a big ant:

LiveScience is reporting that the fossilized bodies of giant ants- heretofore known only from wings- have been described by Bruce Archibald et al from Eocene deposits in Wyoming:

At about 2 inches (5 cm) long, the specimen is a “monstrously big ant,” said Bruce Archibald, a paleoentomologist at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia who reported the discovery today (May 3) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Though fossils of loose giant ant wings have been found before in the United States, this is the first known full-body specimen.

The story appears to be a mistimed embargo, as the paper itself isn’t actually out yet (7pm May 3rd). As I have not read the original research, I’ll refrain from further comment.

[photo by Bruce Archibald]

***update: the paper is now online


source: Archibald, S.B., Johnson, K.R., Mathewes, R.W., and Greenwood, D.R. 2011. Intercontinental dispersal of giant thermophilic ants across the Arctic during early Eocene hyperthermals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, online early