The Ants of Africa
SUBFAMILY CERAPACHYINAE - Genus Sphinctomyrmex Mayr


Genus Sphinctomyrmex Mayr, 1866b: 895

Diagnostic Features - Each gastral segment separated from adjoining segments by distinct girdling constrictions; eyes absent.

Mayr's (1866b) illustrated genus definition is at {original description}. Santschi (1930a: 49) erected a new genus, Aethiopopone, for the African species previously regarded by himself (Santschi, 1915), he noted "not Mayr 1866", as Sphinctomyrmex [see {original description}]. He accompanied the definition with a description of rufiventris var chariensis.
Bolton (1995), however, has - "Aethiopopone Santschi, 1930a: 49. Type species Sphinctomyrmex rufiventris by monotypy. Aethiopopone junior synonym of Sphinctomyrmex: Bolton, 1973a:341; Brown, 1975: 31."

Described by Bolton (1973a) as rare and collected only from Berlese funnel extracts of forest leaf litter. Revision by Brown (1975). The two species from Africa are known only from males; the second species, Sphinctomyrmex chariensis is from the Central African Republic (Bolton, 1995). Elsewhere genus members are known to pursue an army ant life style, raiding other ants; the long jointed gaster appearing to be adaptive, allowing individuals to wrap around and protect the brood (Brown, 1975).

Brown (1975) commented on seeing other specimens apparently from West Africa. One from the Schönherr Collection in the Riksmuseet, deposited in 1848, had the lable "S. Leone/Afzelius", Adam Afzelius (1750-1838) had been a student of Linnaeus, who collected in or acquired material from Sierra Leone. He, Brown, felt it might be the female of one of the two Santschi species. A third species appears to have been found by Dr Jean Lévieux from in the soil at Lamto, Ivory Coast, but Brown noted the specimens had gone to Dr R W Taylor, who "several years ago expressed an interest in describing them; so far no description had appeared". Brown gave a brief description.

Species now known from Africa

1 MALE, TL 4.5 mm; head and thorax brown black, rest yellow brown. Pilosity as type (rufiventris) main difference being the more regular posterior convexity of the head. Ocelli smaller and separated by their own diameter (separation less in the type). Second segment of funiculus nore than twice as long as wide; following segments two and a half times as long. Sides of propodeum puncturate like the rest, but with several longitudinal striae near the edge of the declivity, that has similar transverse fine striae. Petiole node, less regularly rounded dorsally, with a feebly concave dorsum. Discoidal fringe brown Chad & Mali - chariensis
2 MALE, TL 4.5 mm; reddish brown; appendages and gaster reddish yellow; dorsum of gaster a little darker brown. Head and thorax with large irregular puncturations, more or less confluent on a smooth ground; puncturation of gaster finer and more spaced; sides of propodeum rugulo-reticulate. Fine long, decumbent pilosity, more erect on gaster; legs and antennae pubescent, latter very finely Benin & Mali - rufiventris
3 {short description of image}Probably the specimen shown by Bolton (1990) as ruifiventris but without any justification for the association of an identified male with the worker Sphinctomyrmex sp from Ivory Coast
4 {short description of image} Sphinctomyrmex sp from Gabon
© 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 - Brian Taylor CBiol FSB FRES
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