The Ponerini may be paraphyletic (i.e. may include Thaumatomyrmex) but are characterized by the following apomorphies (Bolton 2003):
- Median portion of clypeus narrowed posteriorly, narrowly inserted between frontal lobes as a slender triangle or linear strip
- Antennal sockets closely approximated
- Inner borders of frontal lobes very closely approximated mediodorsally on head or confluent for most or all of their length (often separated merely by a sulcus)
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