Castles in the air - they are so easy to take refuge in. And so easy to build, too.

आम्हां घरी धन शब्दांचीच रत्नें | शब्दांचीच शस्त्रें यत्न करुं ||
शब्द चि आमुच्या जीवांचे जीवन | शब्दें वांटूं धन जनलोकां ||
तुका म्हणे पाहा शब्द चि हा देव | शब्द चि गौरव पूजा करुं ||
- abhang of Tukaram Wolhoba Ambile of Dehu

There's No Freedom Like That of a Child's Imagination

கடலுக்கு உண்டு கற்பனைக்கு இல்லை கட்டுப்பாடு

Monday, June 28, 2010

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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