It may be time for 2020 to end. First there were killer horns and then there were the nuclear ants. Now researchers have discovered the frightening “hell acid.” Thankfully, the Hell ant has been extinct for over 99 million years, so we do not have to worry about it coming to the city soon, unless these scientists decide to draw a Jurassic park experiment and revive. With that said, the prehistoric insect was discovered in amber while still killing the prey.
When most people think of amber and scientific discoveries, they think of the mosquito from Jurassic Park. The mosquito looks completely normal and non-threatening in its dormant form, which is the complete opposite of the hell ant, which has an extinct relative of the cockroach in its grip. Researchers say this is the first time they have witnessed the newly discovered species, aka Ceratomyrmex ellenbergeri. “Fossilized behavior is extremely rare, predation especially so,”
The hell ant has a “lily-like” mouth that looks like it could do some major damage. When it comes to ants, the “hell ant” is really just a drop in the bucket, along with the newly discovered nuclear ants. Researchers believe that they have so far found over 12,500 different species of ants and believe that there are at least 10,000 more that have not yet been discovered and studied. But none of the ants roaming the earth at this moment look like the mysterious hell ant.
The new hell ants were found in amber deposits from Myanmar, Canada and France. The mouths of these particular ants are “unlike almost any insect that lives today.” The Hell ant “used its lower mandible to move upwards and attach its prey to the horn-like paddle above.” Other species of hell ants also have this horn, but researchers were unsure what it was used for so far. Phillip Barden went on to say, “As paleontologists, we speculate on the function of ancient adaptations with available evidence, but to see an extinct predator caught in capturing its prey is invaluable.”
The mouth of the hell ant is believed to have been a step in the evolutionary process. Phillip Barden states, “This fossil reveals the mechanism behind what we might call an ‘evolutionary experiment,’ and although we see many such experiments in the fossil record, we often have no clear picture of the evolutionary path that led to them.” Now they do, thanks to the scary hell ant that eats a prehistoric relative of the cockroach. It is believed that hell ants could not move their heads so well, which means that they probably caught most of their prey while turning downwards. 2020 has yielded some really weird stuff, but hell ants are up there with the weirdest. Thankfully, they are extinct. This news was originally reported by Science Alert.