Scientists discover a new EXPLODING insect that rips itself apart, and releases toxic goo to defend its colony from enemies.

 

     

    Biologists have discovered a new species of ant that explodes when it gets angry – coating its enemies with a sticky goo.

    The ‘suicide bomber ant’ was discovered in the forest canopy in Borneo. When threatened by other insects the low-ranking worker ants can rupture their own bodies. They do this by violently contracting their abdominal muscles until they split.

    The explosion causes the ant’s immediate death and releases a sticky, toxic yellow liquid they produce from enlarged glands behind the jaw.

    The sticky ‘goo’, which experts say has a distinct smell reminiscent of curry, can kill or injure their enemy.

    In addition to the goo, the ants jaws lock on to their opponent when they die – leaving the attacked ant, if it is not killed, having to haul around the dead ant’s body.

    In the forest canopy where the ants live, the encounter can often leave the attacked ants – and the dead ‘kamikaze’ ant – tumbling to the forest floor, where they are an easy target for other predators.

    While normal ants commonly also have glands in their jaws that release chemicals, these ones are so large that much of their bodies fill up with the secretion.

    Scientists have named the ant Colobpis explodens after its bizarre behaviour.

    It is one of 15 new species of exploding ants that has been found by researchers from the Natural History Museum Vienna and colleagues on the island.

    In the forest canopy where the ants live, the encounter can often leave the attacked ants – and the dead ‘kamikaze’ ant – tumbling to the forest floor, where they are an easy target for other predators.

    While normal ants commonly also have glands in their jaws that release chemicals, these ones are so large that much of their bodies fill up with the secretion.

    Scientists have named the ant Colobpis explodens after its bizarre behaviour.

    It is one of 15 new species of exploding ants that has been found by researchers from the Natural History Museum Vienna and colleagues on the island.

    Ants were first recorded exploding in 1916, but no new species of exploding ant had been described since 1935.

    The researchers said the new species, previously nicknamed ‘yellow goo’ for its bright secretions, is the ‘model species’ of the group.

    The scientists deemed it ‘particularly prone to self-sacrifice when threatened by enemy arthropods, as well as intruding researchers’.

    Exploding is not the only unusual behaviour that the ants show.

    ‘Major’ workers have big, block shaped heads they use to physically barricade the ants nest against intruders.

    Self-sacrifice in animals is very rare in nature, but it is not unknown. Some termite species also explode – but in these cases it is to defend their mounds.

    But the exploding ants behaviour is quite different as they take place in one-on-one confrontations far from nests – making their behaviour more puzzling.

    Being a ‘model species’ means that the ant will serve as an important navigation point in future studies on exploding ants.

    Publications regarding their behaviour, chemical profile, microbiology, anatomy and evolution are currently in preparation, say the authors.

    In addition, there are several more new species expected to be described in the near future.

    The full findings of the study were published in the journal ZooKeys.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5634795/New-ant-species-Borneo-EXPLODES-releases-toxic-chemicals-defend-colony-enemies.html#ixzz5DGJ8n93j
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