According tomedia CNET, “Haidomyrmecine” is an insect that lived during the Cretaceous period. One of these small and strange creatures has been found trapped in 99 million years of amber. But that’s not all. When scientists discovered the particular specimen, they observed that it had a firm grip on the moth of a cockroach-like insect.
The stunning scene of ancient predatory attempts opened a window into the past for a research team led by Philip Barden, an evolutionary biologist at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Baden is the lead author of a study of “Hell Ants” published Thursday in the journal Current Biology. The newly discovered ant species is known as Ceratomyrmex ellenbergeri.
According to information released by the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the specimen “provides some first direct evidence of how it and other hell ants used their killers — using their strange but deadly sickle-shaped jaws in vertical motion to pin their prey to their angular limbs.”
Ants and crickets that are fixed in amber can more clearly show the ants’ unusual physical characteristics and how they catch their prey.
“This predatory fossil confirms our hypothesis about how hell ant-mouths work, ” Baden said. “The only way to catch prey under such an arrangement is to move the ant’s mouth up and down in a different direction than all living ants and almost all insects.”
Baden describes this unusual mouth mechanism as an “evolutionary experiment.” The researchers also investigated and described other types of hell ants, including a horn ant named after the “Piers King Voled.”
These long-lost insects are fascinating creatures, and Baden is still curious about why the hell ants die out. “I think insect fossils are a reminder that even ubiquitous, familiar things like ants have gone extinct, ” he says. “