Fossil of fearsome 'hell ant' that used tusk-like jaws to hunt its victims discovered in amber

Even something as ubiquitous and familiar as ants have undergone extinction.

8/11/2020 1:04:00 AM

Even something as ubiquitous and familiar as ants have undergone extinction.

A 99-million year old fossil of a 'hell ant' is giving researchers a glimpse into the behavior of these fearsome ancient insects, a new study reports.

Even something as ubiquitous and familiar as ants have undergone extinction.The hell ant is thought to have vanished around 65 million years ago.A 99-million year old fossil of a"hell ant" is giving researchers a glimpse into the behavior of these fearsome ancient insects, a

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new studyreports.Encased in amber (tree resin), the fossil provides the most vivid picture yet of how hell ants once used their uncanny tusk-like mandibles and diverse horns to successfully hunt down victims for nearly 20 million years, before vanishing from the planet.

“Since the first hell ant was unearthed about a hundred years ago, it’s been a mystery as to why these extinct animals are so distinct from the ants we have today,” said study lead author Phillip Barden of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, in astatement

.“This fossil reveals the mechanism behind what we might call an ‘evolutionary experiment,’ and although we see numerous such experiments in the fossil record, we often don’t have a clear picture of the evolutionary pathway that led to them,” Barden said.

The findings were published recently in the journal Current Biology by researchers from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Rennes in France. In the study, scientists unveiled the fossil of the the hell ant (official name: haidomyrmecine) as it embraced its unsuspecting final victim, an extinct relative of the cockroach known as Caputoraptor elegans.

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