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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.


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Supplier: David Lubertazzi

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