Evolution

Myrmecos

Tag archives for Evolution

Some Turtle Ant Mimics

Biologist Henry Hespenheide sends along this shot of several ant-mimicking beetles and their Cephalotes model: What I take from this image is just how important the appearance of a narrow waist must be to successfully pulling off the illusion. These mimics differ considerably in body proportions, but they have all managed to paint a fake…

Heterospilus, undescribed species, Costa Rica My more astute readers may have noticed that Myrmecos Blog has been uncharacteristically quiet this week. I do apologize, but I have a regular research job aside from blogging that periodically requires attention. I’ve been assembling genetic and morphological data from 100 or so wasps in the hyperdiverse genus Heterospilus.…

How the Aphid got its Pink

A pleasingly pink pea aphid (Acrythosiphon pisum) A long time ago, on a host plant far, far away, an aphid became infected with a fungus. And then it did something unusual: it incorporated some fungal genes into its own genome. New research by Nancy Moran and Tyler Jarvik, published yesterday in the journal Science, used…

A suspicious similarity

Yesterday, Antweb posted its first images of Anomalomyrma workers, and I’ve been staring at them ever since. This is a strange ant indeed, a member of the ancient subfamily Leptanillinae that is potentially a sister lineage to the remaining extant ants. It’s ostensibly a subterranean predator in the forests of tropical Asia, but beyond that…

Leptomyrmex darlingtoni, Australia A big day for ant evolution! The Ant Tree of Life research group (AToL) has published their dolichoderine phylogeny in the journal Systematic Biology. Dolichoderines are one of the big ant subfamilies, comprising just under ten percent of the world’s ant species. These are dominant, conspicuous ants noted for having ditched the…

Sunday Night Movie: Driver Ants Mating

A short clip from the BBC program “Ant Attack” [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHoRiFq3ekw] Driver ant males are astoundingly strange creatures. They are larger, more muscular, more exaggerated than most other male ants. The reason is likely linked to the behavior shown in the above video: males must first be accepted by a gauntlet of choosy workers. A classic…

The Myrmica Phylogeny

The online early section of Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution this week has the first comprehensive phylogeny of a rather important genus of ants: Myrmica. Myrmica is ubiquitous in the colder climates of North America and Eurasia, with a few seemingly incongruous species inhabiting the mountains of tropical southeast Asia. The genus contains about 200 species,…

Last summer I replaced the old covering on our porch roof. When I peeled back the rotting shingles, I was greeted by a frenzy of frenetic brown ants- thousands of them- running about every which way. Dozens of fat queens scurried for cover. It was an impressive display of formicid infestation, reminiscent of the swarms…

The most ambitious arthropod phylogeny yet

The top-tier journal Nature doesn’t often deal in purely phylogenetic research. So when such a study graces their pages we know it’s big stuff. Yesterday, Nature published a 62 gene, 75 species analysis of the evolutionary history of the arthropods. Arthropods, as readers of this blog likely know, are animals with a chitinous exoskeleton and…

The eggs that weren’t

I did not expect everyone to nearly instantaneously solve yesterday’s termite ball mystery.¬† I’m either going to have to post more difficult challenges (from now on, nothing will be in focus!) or attract a slower class of reader. As you surmised, those little orange balls are an egg-mimicking fungus. It is¬†related to free-living soil fungi,…