Researchers discover a new species of ant in a wild frog's puke
Scientists have discovered a new species of ant in a totally unexpected place. It was in the belly of a poison frog.
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The new ant species, named Lenomyrmex hoelldobleri, belongs to genus Lenomyrmex. The genus was previously comprised of six ant species, which are only rarely collected. The latest discovery contributes to expand the number of ant species in the genus and it was not possible without a frog called diablito.
Diablito, or little devil frog, found in Ecuador, feed on ants and often go hunting for bugs and insects in places which are hard to access for humans. So, there is always a possibility that something unusual is hiding inside their bellies.
“Many amphibians, including species of the aposematic poison frogs in the family Dendrobatidae, and non-avian reptiles are known to be specialized predators of ants and therefore they provide interesting sources of rarely collected and new arthropod species.” Authors wrote in Journal ZooKeys.
When researchers captured a wild devil frog and flushed its stomach, they found an ant specimen dipped in its puke. The ant was already dead when it was taken out of the frog’s stomach and researchers were completely unaware of its identity. Researchers found that the speciman was less than a quarter of an inch long and did not look like any ant species decoumented before. After thorough analysis, the ant was officially declared a new species from genus Lenomyrmex and was named Lenomyrmex hoelldobleri to honor a German evolutionary biologist and ant expert, Bert Hölldobler.
Lenomyrmex ants are found in mid to high elevation rainforests in southern Central and northwestern South America from Costa Rica to Ecuador and are linked to subfamily of ants Myrmicinae, the most diverse clad of ants which currently consists of more than 6,600 species.
The myrmicine ants likely originated some 100 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous. They were further broke down into around 140 genera, which are now existing in all major ecosystems around the world.