We’re proud to bring you the latest in film, TV, video games and comic book news, but we also know you’re hungry for information about new and exciting varieties of ants. Just days after we reported on the surprisingly heartwarming story of researchers discovering a colony of cannibal ants in a Soviet nuclear bunker, we now have another tale that’s setting the world of myrmecology alight. I’m talking lost, prehistoric, murderous “hell ants.”
The hell ant (aka eratomyrmex ellenbergeri) certainly lives up its billing, being a highly specialized killing machine with mouthparts unlike anything scuttling around the planet today. It has a unique horn atop its head, allowing it to pin its prey using its vertically orientated lower mandible and slice it to ribbons. Even more disturbingly, scientists postulate that the hell ant’s horn was reinforced with some kind of metal and its jaws could have functioned as a kind of “blood gutter” to funnel the delicious liquid into its belly.
How do we know all this? Well, scientists have caught a hell ant in the act. A 99-million-year-old piece of amber has been discovered with a hell ant preserved inside, frozen at the very moment it was devouring its cockroach-like prey. See for yourself below…
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Paleontologist Philip Barden recently discussed the hell ant, admiring the efficient and brutal way in which it could tear apart other insects, saying:
“The prey would have been essentially collared around the neck by the elongate horn and mandibles of the hell ant before most likely receiving an immobilizing sting. We think hell ants may have had very fast muscle movements, something we see in some modern ant predators, so the hell ant mandibles may have snapped closed in a very quick flash.”
So, could it be possible to resurrect the hell ant and harness its killing power for ourselves? Well, insects (particularly fruit flies) are regularly cloned for experiments, but it’s likely the DNA of the preserved hell ant would be too degraded to make a clone.
But hey, why not fill out that lost information with some cheetah, shark and gorilla DNA and see what pops out of the test tube? I think the one thing 2020 is missing is the hell ant. C’mon, let’s make it happen. Hail ants.