There are seven extant species and one extinct species (Acanthognathus poinari) in this genus.
Ants of the genus Acanthognathus stalk small insects and catch their prey by a strike with their long, thin mandibles. The mandibles close in less than 2.5 ms and this movement is controlled by a specialized closer muscle. In Acanthognathus, unlike other insects, the mandible closer muscle is subdivided into two distinct parts: as in a catapult, a large slow closer muscle contracts in advance and provides the power for the strike while the mandibles are locked open. When the prey touches specialized trigger hairs, a small fast closer muscle rapidly unlocks the mandibles and thus releases the strike. The fast movement is steadied by large specialized surfaces in the mandible joint and the sensory-motor reflex is controlled by neurones with particularly large, and thus fast-conducting, axons.
Species in this genus are found in rotten logs, hollow twigs and branches and sections of wood burried in leaf litter. The colony size is rather small, often less than 20 workers. Individual foragers can be seen hunting collembola prey with mandibles wide open on the surface of leaf litter.
- Bolton, B. 2000. The ant tribe Dacetini. Mem. Am. Entomol. Inst. 65: 1-1028.
Central and South America
Mandibles linear and elongate, their bases extremely closely approximated and with kinetic mode of action, each with an apical fork of 3 spiniform teeth that interlock at full closure. Preapical dentition sometimes present but often absent. Mandibles at full gape open to 170 degrees or more. Basal process of mandible a long curved spur that is minutely bifurcated apically; when mandibles fully closed the basal processess cross over and are ventral to the labrum and at the apex of the labio-maxillary complex; when fully open the mandibles are braced in that position by opposition of the basal processes alone. Trigger hairs arise from the mandibles (one from each); trigger hairs lie flat against margin when mandible closed, becoming erect as mandibles open. Palp formula 0,1. Labrum extremely reduced to vestigal, represented by a narrow Y-shaped sclerite; labrum not taking part in mandibular locking mechanism. Buccal cavity narrow, parallel-sided anteriorly; labio-maxillary complex narrow.
- Bolton 2000
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimen Records: 12
Specimens with Sequences: 9
Specimens with Barcodes: 9
Species With Barcodes: 2
Acanthognathus is a genus of ants that are found in tropical Central and South America. They are reddish in colour and have long trap-jaws that can be compared to those of Odontomachus. These predatory ants live in small colonies that typically consist of less than 30 adults.
Mistakenly, the name Acanthognathus was re-used by German ichthyologist G. Duncker in 1912 for a genus of syngnathid fish, but that is invalid as it is a junior homonym. These are now placed in either Dunckerocampus or Doryrhamphus, as the former sometimes is considered a subgenus of the latter. To further confuse, a genus of Nemesiid spiders, Acanthogonatus, is frequently misspelled Acanthognathus.
- Acanthognathus brevicornis M. R. Smith, 1944
- Acanthognathus laevigatus Galvis & Fernández, 2009
- Acanthognathus lentus Mann, 1922
- Acanthognathus ocellatus Mayr, 1887
- †Acanthognathus poinari Baroni Urbani, 1994 – fossil
- Acanthognathus rudis Brown & Kempf, 1969
- Acanthognathus stipulosus Brown & Kempf, 1969
- Acanthognathus teledectus Brown & Kempf, 1969
- Mayr, G. (1887). Südamerikanische Formiciden. Verhandlungen der Zoologisch-Botanischen Gesellschaft in Wien 37: 511-632.
- Bolton, B. (2014). "Acanthognathus". An online catalog of the ants of the world. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
- Brown, W. L., Jr., & W. W. Kempf (1969). A Revision of the Neotropical Dacetine Ant Genus Acanthognathus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae. Psyche 76(2): 87-109.
- Duncker, G. (1912). Die Gattungen der Syngnathidae. Mitteilungen Naturhist. Museum Hamburg 29: 219-240.
- Ride, W.D.L, H.G. Cogger, C. Dupuis, O. Kraus, A. Minelli, F. C. Thompson & P.K. Tubbs, eds. (1999). International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. 4th edition. International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature. ISBN 0-85301-006-4
- Whitley, G. P. (1933). Studies in ichthyology. No. 7. Records of the Australian Museum v. 19 (1): 60-112, Pls. 11-15.
- Dawson, C. E. (1985). Indo-Pacific pipefishes (Red Sea to the Americas). Gulf Coast Research Lab., Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Indo-Pacific pipefishes (Red Sea to the Americas). i-vi + 1-230.
- Galvis, J. P.; Fernández, F. (2009). "Ants of Colombia X. Acanthognathus with the description of a new species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)". Revista Colombiana de Entomología 35: 245–249.
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