Answer to the Monday Mystery: Trachymyrmex

septentrionalis12
Trachymyrmex septentrionalis

It’s Saturday already, and I’m only just now getting around to posting the answer to Monday’s challenge. It’s been a busy week here at Myrmecos headquarters.

What was that marvelous golf club of mystery and befuddlement?

As some of you guessed, it was a nest cast of the fungus-growing ant Trachymyrmex septentrionalis dichrous, made by pouring molten metal into a nest entrance and digging out the resulting sculpture. This particular one was made by ant guy extraordinaire Christian Rabeling when he was a student at the University of Texas.

trachy_cast

Fungus-growing ants tend to excavate unusually cavernous chambers relative to the small size of the entrance tunnels, giving their cultivars ample space to grow.

So. 10 points to Mr. I Love the Ants.

This brings us to the end of the February mysteries, and our monthly winner is a two-way, 10 point tie between Mr. I Love the Ants and Tommy McElrath. Congratulations, gentlemen! Email me for your loot.

 [7/25/2014 – correction – Christian writes in:

That was actually a Trachymyrmex dichrous nest that I casted near Brasília in a Cerrado preserve. This nest chamber sat quite deep at 190cm and a tunnel was leading down to a second chamber, which I could not get with the same pour.  As you can image, the excavation was pretty tedious and took me a couple of days, but it was entirely my fault, because it’s stupid to excavate nests in the dry season when the ants dig deep.  Anyhow, I enjoyed seeing the great picture you took of the cast (it looks three dimensional!).  ]

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