Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

High-Altitude Tree Ant

One of 200 new species discovered in Papua New Guinea, the tree ant makes its home about 1.8 mi. (2.9 km) above sea level. Conditions can be tough at such nosebleed altitudes, and the ants are thus adapted to both hot and dry and cold and wet conditions. The trick is a slow metabolism that allows them to make the most out of anything they eat and a tripwire jaw that helps them catch the most prey possible. The ant's mandibles are kept open a full 180 degrees and snap shut at the slightest brush against their touch sensitive hairs. Pity the soft-bodied insect that wanders across its path.