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99-Year-Old Fossil Reveals Scary Details About 'Hell Ants' Which Used Headgear to Hunt

Image Credits: NJIT, Chinese Academy of Sciences and University of Rennes, France.

Image Credits: NJIT, Chinese Academy of Sciences and University of Rennes, France.

Interestingly this fossil also provides direct evidence that these hell ants used their headgear to hunt, snapping their mandibles to pin their prey against the horn.

Majority of us would have possibly never been curious about ants. But this latest research that deals with almost a century old fossil, which has captured a hell ant attacking its prey will certainly blow your mind.

According to a report published in Science Focus, this 99-year-old fossil is proof that these now extinct insects were hunting with their scythe-like mandibles and horn-like headgear.

For those who may not know about the species, the Hell Ant belongs to a previously identified species called Ceratomyrmex ellenbergeri. These insects were found in Burma, present day Myanmar. This extinct insect is a relative of the cockroach family.

Interestingly this fossil also provides direct evidence that these hell ants used their headgear to hunt, snapping their mandibles to pin their prey against the horn. Their species is believed to have gone extinct some 65 million years ago.

Study leader Dr Phillip Barden of the New Jersey Institute of Technology in the United States, said, “To see an extinct predator caught in the act of capturing its prey is invaluable. This fossilised predation confirms our hypothesis for how hell ant mouthparts worked.”

Elaborating further upon how the prey would have been captured, he said, “The only way for prey to be captured in such an arrangement is for the ant mouthparts to move up and downward in a direction unlike that of all living ants and nearly all insects.”

Furthermore, Dr Phillip’s team is of the opinion that the early ancestors of hell ants would have probably first got the ability to move their mouthparts vertically, followed by the diverse horns

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