‘Ant from Mars’ emerges from its 120 million-year anonymity

via Times Online

A new species of insect, nicknamed “the ant from Mars” because of its strange and unique physical characteristics, has been discovered in the Amazon rainforest.

The Martialis heureka ant, a blind predator that lives in soil and grows to between 2mm and 3mm long, was identified as belonging to an entirely new branch that is extremely close in nature to the first ants to evolve.

The ant is so unlike any other that its Latin name means “eureka ant from Mars”. The name derives from a comment by the renowned biologist E.O.Wilson, who jokingly told the discovery team that the ant looked so strange it must come from Mars. The “heureka” species epithet, meaning “I’ve found it”, comes from the way that a single specimen was discovered five years after the first examples had been lost. Continue reading