Thursday, September 25, 2008

Isolated Ancient Ant Found

A blind, pale any, of which only two specimens have been found, resurfaced in Brazil.

"Martialis is as ancient and as odd as an ant can be and still be called an ant. The lineage emerged right at the dawn of the family and provides a new line of sight back to the elusive ant ancestors.

What do we know about Martialis? Not all that much. We have a single insect that was found walking about in the leaf litter, away from its presumed nesting site. The details of its biology must be inferred from the morphology of the preserved specimen and the DNA sequence of a few genes. Until someone locates live colonies, the situation is a bit like having a well-preserved fossil with a smattering of genetic information.

We can say that Martialis really is an ant and not just another wayward wingless wasp."

Read the whole article, it is fascinating, particularly the fact that ants are essentially wingless wasps. That was something I had never put together before. It is also encouraging that an entire species of any could exist without our knowledge of a single nest. It's nice to still have some mystery in the world.

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