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 Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>