Natures wonders: Ants escape by snapping jaws! (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 23:17 (1753 days ago) @ David Turell

Snapping its jaw flings it out of the pit trap:

"When threatened, some trap-jaw ants can use their powerful jaws like a spring to fling themselves out of death pits dug by stealthy predators, a new study finds.

"The ant's acrobatic, springlike feat doubles the insect's survival rate when facing a deadly predator called the antlion, an insect that digs pits in the ground to help it catch and eat prey, the researchers said.

"When small arthropods, such as ants and other insects, fall into a pit, the unstable walls make it hard for the prey to escape. Antlions also throw sand at their potential victims, which can trigger an avalanche and make it even more difficult for the prey to flee. Once the animal falls to the bottom of the pit, the antlion grabs it, pulls it under the sand and injects it with a toxin.

" The ants with jaws glued shut couldn't snap their jaws, and only about 28 percent of these ants survived by running away.The jaw snap, the scientists found, is crucial to the ants' survival.

"'I was certainly surprised that taking away their ability to jump decreased their survival," Larabee said. "It's definitely a story about how very complex traits can originally evolve for one thing, in this case prey capture, but then be co-opted for completely different functions.'"

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