Newly Discovered 'Exploding Ant' Species is a Terrifying Product of Evolution

Newly Discovered 'Exploding Ant' Species is a Terrifying Product of Evolution

Troy Powers
April 23, 2018

Scientists simply referred to the ants as members of a group named Colobopsis cylindrica-better known as the exploding ants. The ants are found to be showing their fascinating abilities that involve showering and exploding venomous yellowish goo while attacking the enemies.

Confronted by a threat, such as a predatory insect, a minor worker can deliberately rupture its abdominal wall.

After years of tracking and studying ant colonies in the humid jungles of Southeast Asia, scientists finally described the Colobopsis explodens species for the first time earlier this week, in an article published on the journal ZooKeys. If an enemy proves too persistent, these little insects will angle their backsides close to the predator and contract their muscles so tightly that their skin bursts open and release the goo, which has a "spice-like, curry-like" scent, Alice Laciny, a doctoral student at the Natural History Museum in Vienna and lead author of the study, tells Chiu.

Ants, as they are - and not to irk our animal-loving readers out there - very high on the list of crap idiot animals that everybody hates.

Because these odd and remarkable creatures have not been well studied, an interdisciplinary team from Austria, Thailand and Brunei came together in 2014 to classify different species of exploding ants.

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No, not any more, because a new species of ant has been discovered that actually explodes when provoked.

The exploding minor workers aren't the only interesting ants here. "Imagine a single ant is like a cell in a human body".

Scientists call this "autothysis", a suicidal behaviour that's also been documented in some termites.

Researchers described the species as "particularly prone to self-sacrifice". Where the minor workers blow themselves apart, it appears the major workers' responsibility is to use their larger, plug-shaped heads as barricades to keep intruders out of the nest.

"It is still not clear why they are doing this, but we already discovered several new species of very interesting fungi that are growing on this foliage". Publications regarding their behaviour, chemical profile, microbiology, anatomy and evolution are now in preparation, say the authors.