Published: Sat, December 15, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Dracula ants have the fastest body parts known to man: their jaws

Dracula ants have the fastest body parts known to man: their jaws

To make up for lack of muscle, arthropods like the Dracula ant have evolved appendage systems that work like latches, levers, and springs.

The mandibles of the Dracula ant, Mystrium camillae, are the fastest known moving animal appendages, snapping shut at speeds of up to 90 meters per second.

"Our main findings are that snap-jaws are the fastest of the spring-loaded ant mouthparts, and the fastest now known animal movement", Larabee said.

Found across Australia and South East Asia, it can snap its jaw at over 200 miles per hour - 5,000 times faster than the blink of a human eye, and 1,000 times faster than the snap of a finger.

"Even among ants that power-amplify their jaws, the Dracula ants are unique".

The study showed that, unlike other spring-loaded ant jaws, the Dracula ant powers up their mandibles by pressing the tips together under extreme forces.

The American scientists, who have published their findings on the Dracula ant in the Royal Society Open Science journal, said animal speed is crucial knowledge and can determine whether animals are predators or prey.


Overall, one of the Central results of the study, . the snap-action movement of the mandibles of Mystrium camillae the now fastest known movement in the animal Kingdom, insects researchers Fred Larabee from the Smithsonian Institute He was, however, sure that there were ants that could break that record.

Getting their moment on the camera wasn't easy as they are incredibly fast. Their name wasn't derived from the wicked snap-jaw, but for from their extremely unusual feeding habits.

The adult ants are unable to process solid food; instead, they feed prey to their larvae and then chew holes in the larvae and drink their blood.

The team's future work includes examining how ants use their jaws in the field. Scientists say that Dracula ants now hold the title.

Fredrick J. Larabee, a postdoctoral researcher at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, also led the study. For the study, scientists also used X-ray imaging technology to probe the insects' anatomy and figure out how their jaws move as fast as they do.

"We also discovered that snap-jaw mandible shape is specialized for bending, consistent with their use as a flexible spring", they said.

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