Technology

Scientists discover new species of exploding ant

A new species of ant which can detonate their bodies when threatened has been discovered by scientists.

A research team from Austria, Thailand and Malaysia found the insects, Colobopsis explodens, in the rain forest in Borneo.

The ants fend off attackers by latching on to enemies and flexing their bodies so violently that they explode, releasing a toxic yellow liquid and killing themselves instantly.

The yellow goo is sticky and can be fatal for predators and is said to smell similar to curry.

This tactic is used by minor worker ants to kill or hold off intruders, often to defend the whole colony.

Researchers described the species as "particularly prone to self-sacrifice".

Image:The 'doorkeeper' ant has a plug-shaped face to barricade nest entrances

It is rare in nature for individuals to sacrifice themselves, but it has been seen in termites and honeybees.

Only sterile females have the ability to detonate their bodies, however.

Major workers, also known as "doorkeepers", have unusual plug-shaped heads to block nest entrances from enemies.

The team identified around 15 different species of exploding ants in their research, including one new to science.

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Several sub-species were documented in the early 20th century, but this is the first new discovery in more than 80 years.

The find was published in the scientific journal Zookeys.

Original Article

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