Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rapid-fire jaws propel ants to safety

23.08.2006
Move aside, mantis shrimp; trap-jaw ants now hold the world record for fastest moving body parts.

Scientists using a high-speed imaging system have found that the jaws in trap-jaw ants snap shut in less than a millisecond, averaging a speed of 38 meters per second (approximately 137 kilometers/hour).

"Not only are these mandibles phenomenally fast, they also generate enough force to eject enemies and propel the ants through the air," said Andrew V. Suarez, a professor of entomology and of animal biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and co-author of a paper that will be posted online this week ahead of regular publication by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Trap-jaw ants (Odontomachus bauri) are found throughout Central and South America. The ants in this study were collected in Costa Rica. Typical prey includes termites and other ant species; predators include spiders, frogs and lizards.

"There is nothing obvious about the ants' prey that points toward the need for an extremely fast capture mechanism," said Suarez, who is also an affiliate of the Institute for Genomic Biology at the U. of I. "Increasing speed generates more force, however, which can inflict more damage to predators or propel the ants to safety."

Powered by a large head filled with muscle, the mandibles function like spring-loaded lever arms. An internal damping mechanism prevents the jaws from crushing each other.

Depending upon how the ants used their jaws, they produced power for predation or for two types of defensive propulsion, the researchers report.

The first type, termed bouncer defense, involved ants striking a large intruding object, simultaneously attacking the intruder while bouncing away, up to 40 centimeters in some cases, and sometimes causing the intruder to bounce away as well.

The second type of defensive propulsion was the escape jump. When a threat was too large, the ant would snap its jaws off the ground, launching itself up to 8 centimeters in the air.

Though not as high vertically, the horizontal ranges of the bouncer defense jumps averaged seven times greater than escape jumps.

"These propulsive behaviors may be especially important given that O. bauri builds nests in leaf litter, rather than below ground," the researchers write. "Without the subterranean strongholds typical of many ants, temporary escape from predators and ejection of intruders may be essential for this species."

To study the ants' movements, the researchers used a high-speed imaging system capable of taking up to 250,000 frames per second. Because the mandibles close so quickly, a complete analysis of jaw movement had not been performed before.

Jim Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uiuc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Closing in on advanced prostate cancer
13.12.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

nachricht Visualizing single molecules in whole cells with a new spin
13.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A whole-body approach to understanding chemosensory cells

13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

Water without windows: Capturing water vapor inside an electron microscope

13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cellular Self-Digestion Process Triggers Autoimmune Disease

13.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>