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

{Odontomachus genus definition}Genus Odontomachus Latreille (1804: 179)


Diagnostic Features - Mandibles elongate, linear, inserted close to the midline of the anterior margin of the head. When closed the mandibles meet throughout their length but the active ant characteristically keeps the mandibles wide open to form a line at right angles to the long axis of the head. The mandibular apex is armed with three teeth in a vertical series, the dorsal tooth being truncated. The node of the petiole ends dorsally in a long spine.

The genus was fully revised by Brown (1976a), who defined a total of 51 species - 28 from the Old World, of which only two are African, and 23 from the New World. Interestingly, despite there being only two modern species, he thought that the genus originated in the Old World wet tropics, with a relatively late dispersal. The snap action of the mandibular strike is a common characteristic of genus members and is among the fastest movements known from anywhere in the animal kingdom (Hölldobler & Wilson, 1994). Although the action may be primarily a strike for capture, it also provides a very effective backward propulsion when the mandibles are snapped onto a hard surface, as Lang had commented - "the leaping may be of some practical use to the ants when scaly ant-eaters open their nests" (in Wheeler, 1922).

Separation of African species (Brown, 1976a):-

1 {short description of image}Occiput with no more than a fine longitudinal groove or sulcus; first gastric segment glassy smooth, without appreciable pubescence, but usually with a few coarse hairs; petiolar node and posterior part of second gastric tergum prevailingly smooth and shining; petiole node generally higher and narrower in profile assiniensis
-- {short description of image}Occiput with a distinct longitudinal groove; first gastric tergum with abundant and conspicuous appressed to decumbent pubescence; sides of petiolar node and (usually) all of gastric tergum finely striate or reticulate troglodytes
Contents PONERINAE Introduction
© 2007, 2012 - Brian Taylor CBiol FSB FRES
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