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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: 'Monster' Ants Found in Leaf Litter
31 July 2013 5:15 pm
The 19th century English poet William Blake might’ve been onto something when he considered an entire world in a grain of sand. But he probably didn’t consider tiny “monsters,” smaller than rice grains. Researchers have discovered 33 new species of ants in Central America and the Caribbean. The insects have broad, shieldlike faces and mandibles bristling with sharp teeth, such as Eurhopalothrix procera (pictured above), and none are longer than 2.5 millimeters. Their grim visages inspired names based on Maya demons Hunhau, Zipacna, and others. Many had been previously lumped in with other species of the Eurhopalothrix and Octostruma genera. The ants were found mostly in the plant debris of Central and South American mountain forests. Researchers had to sift through 100 square-meters of forest floor for every four or five of the rare specimens, then use a high-power microscope and micrometer measuring tool to note variations in size, the shape of their mandibles, and patterns of hair on their exoskeletons—all defining characteristics of individual species. Frightening work.