It may be time for 2020 to give up. First there were killing wasps and then there were nuclear cannibal ants. Now, scientists have discovered the “ant of hell”. Thankfully, the heck ant has been extinct for over 99 million years, so we do not have to worry about what will come to town any time soon, unless these scientists decide to pull a Jurassic Park experiment and bring it back to life. With that said, the prehistoric insect was discovered in amber while still cheating that prey.
When most people think of amber and scientific discoveries, they think of the Jurassic Park mosquito. The mosquito looks perfectly normal and not menacing in its form of rest, which is the complete opposite of the hell ant, which has an extinct relative of the cockroach in its grasp. Scientists say it is the first time they have witnessed the newly discovered species, aka Ceratomyrmex ellenbergeri, feeding. “Fossilized behavior is extremely rare, robbery especially so,”; says Phillip Barden, who studies the evolution of social insects at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
The hell ant has a “scheme” mouth that looks like it can do some great damage. As for the ants, the “hell ants” is really just a drop in the bucket, along with the recently discovered cannibal ants. Scientists believe they have found over 12,500 different species of ants so far and think there are at least 10,000 others that have not yet been discovered and studied. However, none of the ants walking around the Earth at the moment look like the mysterious ants of hell.
New hell ants were found in amber deposits from Myanmar, Canada and France. The mouths of these special ants “are no different from almost all living insects today.” Hell ants “used its lower mandible to move up and drink its horn-like prey” Other species of ants also have this horn, but scientists were not sure what it was used for. so far. Phillip Barden went on to say: “As paleontologists, we speculate on the function of ancient adaptations using available evidence, but to see a missing predator caught in the act of capturing its prey is invaluable.”
The mouth in the ant of hell is believed to have been a step in the evolutionary process. Phillip Barden notes, “This fossil reveals the mechanism behind what we might call an ‘evolutionary experiment’, and although we see numerous such experiments in the fossil record, we often do not have a clear picture of the evolutionary path that led in them. “Now, they do, thanks to the scary devil ants eating a prehistoric relative of the cockroach. It is believed that the ants of hell were not able to move their heads so well, which means that they probably caught most of their prey while facing down. 2020 has provided some really weird things, but the ants of hell are up there with the weirdest. Thankfully they are extinct. This news was originally reported by Science Alert.