Sorry mantis shrimp, the Dracula ant's snap-jaw is faster

The Dracula ant can snap its mandibles at speeds of up to 90 m  s. Image credit Adrian Smith

Overall, one of the Central results of the study, . the snap-action movement of the mandibles of Mystrium camillae the now fastest known movement in the animal Kingdom, insects researchers Fred Larabee from the Smithsonian Institute He was, however, sure that there were ants that could break that record. This creates an internal stress that is released when one mandible slides across the other - somewhat similar to how we can snap our fingers, researchers say. This usually involves the three parts working in unison, but in the Dracula ant they are uniquely combined in the mandible.

The Dracula ant goes from zero to 200 miles per hour in just 0.000015 seconds, so scientists had to use state of the art cameras to measure the wonderful speeds involved. These ants so not just kill the centipede but also carry them back to the nest to feed their younger ones.

This particular species is restricted to Australia, tropical Africa and South-East Asia. The fastest animal in the world is an ant.

"Ants use this movement to strike other arthropods, probably by stunning them, crushing them against the wall of a tunnel, or pushing them".

"By comparing the jaw shape of snapping ants with biting ants, we also learned that it only took small changes in shape for the jaws to evolve a new function: acting as a spring", added Fredrick J. Larabee, a postdoctoral researcher and also an author of the study.

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To study the Dracula ants and their unique movement mechanism, the researcher used computer simulations and a variety of the latest technologies. Thanks to the research, the scientists have been proven right: The Dracula ant uses a completely novel method to snap its jaws shut.

The mouthparts of the insect to grab up to 90 meters per second - the fastest ever in the animal Kingdom, measured motion, as the scientists in the journal "Royal Society Open Science".

Dr Larabee said: "Our main findings are that snap-jaws are the fastest of the spring-loaded ant mouthparts, and the fastest now known animal movement". The scientists slowed the footage down by thousands of frames to make a recording clear enough to show the jaws snapping closed in about 23 microseconds, according to the study.

"We also discovered that snap-jaw mandible shape is specialized for bending, consistent with their use as a flexible spring", they said.



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