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A new Asian species from an ancient lineage

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Protanilla eguchii has been described, a member of the subfamily Leptanillinae, one of the earliest lineages of modern ants.

Holotype worker specimen head and profile view. Satria et al., 2023.

The subfamily's biological habits are not well known, but a number of very primitive traits and behaviors have been noted. Morphologically, they are comparable to myrmicines, dorylines, and in some ways amblyoponines. They represent a very distinct lineage of ants, formerly considered sister to all extant species before Martialis heureka was discovered. Some species, such as members of Leptanilla show strange morphological differences in castes, such as dichthadiiform queens (specialized ergatoids, best known in army ants) with a single petiole node, as opposed to a worker caste with a postpetiole. Similar to many amblyoponines and their "vampiric" tendencies, some species are known to have a reliance on larval haemolymph.

Described by Rijal Satria, Dwi Hilda Putri, and Yuni Ahda, Protanilla eguchii is currently only known from the worker caste and was collected in Sumatra. The type series collection provided little insight into the species' biology, but understanding species diversity proves helpful in uncovering the secrets of leptanillines nonetheless. A detailed dichotomous key and images allow for up-to-date identification of Asian Protanilla species. Read the study to learn more here.


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