The Ants of Africa
SUBFAMILY PONERINAE - Genus Asphinctopone
Contents - Ponerinae - PONERINAE Introduction

Genus Asphinctopone Santschi (1914d: 318)


Diagnostic Features - Mandibles somewhat elongated, armed with five teeth, the basal internal margin with a distinct notch. Clypeus bluntly carinate, with the median portion projecting as a rectangular lobe. Eyes reduced. Frontal lobes present. Dorsum of alitrunk with promesonotal suture and metanotal groove distinct, the latter very deeply impressed. Declivity of propodeum steep, marginate on sides and top. Petiole a high, narrow scale, unarmed but the posterior peduncle with a number of distinct raised transverse ridges (Bernard, 1952, gave this ridging as distinct to lamottei, hence his separation as Lepidopone (synonymised, however, by Brown, 1953h). Subpetiolar process complex, with three prominences. Gaster without a constriction, but with a large anteroventral process on the first segment (Santschi, 1914d: 318). Santschi's (1914d) genus description is at {original description}. Brown's (1953h: 2) consideration is at {original description}. He had not examined any of the type specimens.

Bolton (1973a) gave it as a monotypic genus, the species being Asphinctopone silvestrii Santschi; and mentions finding specimens from a black-rotten, very wet banana trunk near Ibadan. However, Bolton had not sighted the work of Bernard at that time, and a picture of another species, Asphinctopone lucidus from Zaïre is shown by Hölldobler & Wilson, (1990, page 83). They listed it as a valid genus but use of the key (by Bolton) in their book ends with "33. Pachycondyla (in part)" and Asphinctopone is not reached. It is listed, however, by Bolton (1994, 1995). Asphinctopone lucidus Weber (1949) is known from the Central African Republic. Bernard (1952) noted it as being more like lamottei, but with a simple petiole and the scape surpassing the vertex.

The key below was posted on the web by me long before the publication of Bolton & Fisher (2008a)

Bolton & Fisher (2008a) have reviewed the genus, examining the types of lamottei and lucidus, but not of silvestrii which appears to be lost. They synonymized those three under silvestrii and added a new species Asphinctopone differens [image] with a single holotype specimen separable from silvestrii by having "the propodeum in profile with a pelt of erect, weakly curved pubescence. Side of propodeum entirely densely irregularly sculptured". Apart from the apparent pubescence, without sighting more examples of silvestrii there are no obvious differences in the morphology.

It has to be said that their arguments for the synonymization of the three older species, whilst apparently strong, tend to diminish the reported differences, e.g. in the propodeum profile, scape length, etc, and ignore the disparities in the full face drawings of the head. Bolton & Fisher then offer limited, and, from their photographs, certainly not strongly obvious differences to justify the delineation of differens. Bernard (1952) noted how the sculpturation on the propodeum of lamottei gave the appearance of crenulation; a feature given by Bolton & Fisher as diagnostic for differens. The range of photographs on, indeed shows quite a lot of variation between specimens all labelled silvestrii.

Hawkes (2010) has added a new species, Asphinctopone pilosa, from Tanzania.  His description, revised genus key and considerable information and analysis of the genus biogeography description, with biogeographical data, is at

Species known from Africa - historical separations, incorporating Hawkes (2010)

1 {Asphinctopone pilosa}Metanotal groove only slightly impressed; clypeus with lateral margins not sharply angular and not projecting further than the apical margin; basal margin of mandible without a distinct tooth-like process
Tanzania (Eastern Arc Mts) - Asphinctopone pilosa
-- Metanotal groove deeply impressed; clypeus with lateral margins sharply angular and projecting further than the apical margin; basal margin of mandible with a distinct tooth-like process 2
2 {short description of image}Antennal scapes exceeding the occiput; TL 3.5 mm; uniformly bright ferruginous Central African Republic - Asphinctopone lucidus
-- Antennal scapes fail to reach the occiput 3
3 {short description of image}propodeum more steeply declivitous, petiolar scale relatively thick; TL 3.7 mm; yellow rust .
. Asphinctopone silvestrii West Africa & Congo Basin - Asphinctopone silvestrii
-- {short description of image}Petiole scale narrow and high; propodeal declivity not near vertical with widely rounded transition from dorsum; TL 3.3 mm; entirely dark red-brown, shiny, extremities yellow-red, petiole scale yellowish .
. Asphinctopone lamottei West Africa & Congo Basin - Asphinctopone lamottei
Contents PONERINAE Introduction
© 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 - Brian Taylor CBiol FSB FRES
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