Home / Science / What's up with the bizarre behavior of the skull collector? | MNN

What's up with the bizarre behavior of the skull collector? | MNN

For all its beauty, nature also has a pathological impression. In Florida, for example, there is an ant that collects the skulls of other ants and decorates their nests, reports Phys.org.

"Add a skull-collecting ant to the list of strange creatures in Florida," said Adrian Smith, a scientist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University who has conducted new research on the bizarre habits of this headhunter of the insect world.

Formica archboldi was a species first identified in 1

958. The researchers immediately discovered that their nests were often littered with dismembered body parts of other ants, mostly the skulls of ants with claws. Since claw ants are reputed to be particularly fearsome predators, researchers did not automatically assume that F. archboldi laid kill trophies. The working assumption for a long time was that these ants had a strange habit of inheriting old Fallenbackenambrustplätze.

Satisfied with this explanation, or perhaps too exhausted to consider alternative theories, new research on the bizarre species broke in. It was not until Smith and his team came across the original 60-year research that described the ant . F. Archboldi and his macabre behavior finally got a second look.

"Presumably, these anteaters were not by chance in Formica nests and there was an interesting biology behind this natural history," Smith said.

And it was not long before the observations revealed the cruel truth behind the strange living together of the ant with skulls of the dead enemies. F. archboldi is actually a specialized predator with adjustments that make it particularly suitable for hunting trap-ants. Smith and his team first noted that F. archboldi is able to chemically mimic the signatures of trap pine ants, allowing them to get close to their prey without notice. Once they have closed, F. Archboldi then releases formic acid streams onto their opponents, paralyzing the hapless victims almost instantaneously.

After the kill is complete, the ants of the Fallenbacke are returned to the F. Erzboldi nests and dismembers. The exoskeletons are then presented as trophies.

The purpose of the trophy ads is not yet clear to the researchers. Maybe these ants are just out of order. Whatever the reason, they have more than earned their description as "skull collecting ants".

"Formica archboldi is now the most chemically diverse ant species we know, and before that work it was just a species with a strange head-collecting habit, so now we have a model that can understand the evolution of the chemical diversification and imitation," said Smith ,

At the top of the article is a video showing the behavior of this type.

What about the bizarre headhunting behavior of this skull-collecting ant?

New research provides fascinating insights into the trophy collections of these strange insects.

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