Tyrannomyrmex rex

A new species of ant is always a fascination. Now consider T. rex.

No. Not this caricatured scavenger. T. rex also stands for the names of many other species, often in jest. But Tyrannomyrmex rex (tyrant-ant king) complete deserves it.

Consider the colour.

With size and colour, not too unlike Solenopsis germinata, the tiny red ant that sometimes invades home. And certainly not like my favourite ant, Oecophylla smaragdina, it is not that blazingly red.

Now remark the sting. Which is, as every myrmecologist knows, the worker's modified ovipositor. Deadly, isn't it? I've been stung by O. smaragdina, Diacamma ceylonensis, Camponotus sericeus and many other species, but I don't want to be stung by Tyrannomyrmex rex. Though I wonder what Fernano Fernández, who found it and described it in his 2003 paper, must have felt like. If he got stung.

Now behold the somewhat knurled surface, the smooth abdomen. Defining characteristics.

Behold the huge antennae. That must be some olfactory lobe it connects to, man!

What it does, is dwarf the mandibles rather thoroughly.

Now imagine this species having a sister species. And that too in a place where Mallus tramp around. But it's true - Tyrannomyrmex dux (tyrant-ant duke) roams the jungles of Kerala.

Remark the lady's mandibles.

Take a closer view of it. Justifies being Tyrannomyrmex, doesn't it?


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