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Thread: The most powerful jaws in the world: why it hurts to be bitten by an ant.

  1. #1

    The most powerful jaws in the world: why it hurts to be bitten by an ant.

    The movie Jaws was about a shark. But, they should do a movie about the jaws of ants. A recent study suggests that ant jaws snap on their prey with a speed and acceleration that exceed anything in the animal world.
    Ant jaws break speed record, propel insects into air, biologists find

    By Sarah Yang | 21 August 2006

    BERKELEY – A species of ant native to Central and South America is entering the annals of extreme animal movement, boasting jaws arguably more impressive than such noteworthy contenders as the great white shark and the spotted hyena.
    Ant jaws in action

    Watch videos of trap-jaw ants, Odontomachus bauri, using their powerful mandibles to fling themselves into the air. (Videos courtesy of Sheila Patek and collaborators, UC Berkeley)

    Biologists clocked the speed at which the trap-jaw ant, Odontomachus bauri, closes its mandibles at 35 to 64 meters per second, or 78 to 145 miles per hour - an action they say is the fastest self-powered predatory strike in the animal kingdom. The average duration of a strike was a mere 0.13 milliseconds, or 2,300 times faster than the blink of an eye.
    The trap jaw ant Ondontomachus bauri closes its jaws at a speed of 35-64 m/sec (78-145 mph). But, the speed alone is not what is so amazing. The jaw closure occurs in 0.13 msec with acceleration rates that are 100,000 greater than the the force of gravity. And, these forces are being generated by ants that weigh a mere 12-15 mg. In fact, the force of the jaw snap is so big that the ants can launch themselves into the air with a mere snap of the jaw, achieving heights of close to 40 cm. The equivalent would be a 5' 6" man launching himself 132 feet into the air by closing his jaws.

    In fact, that is what these ants do when they want to escape from a large predator that they would attack. The ferocity of their bite not only leaves behind a crippled victim but propels them 20 or more cm away. For example, they can bit the tongue of a lizard that is seeking to eat them and propel themselves many cm away within 0.22 second, leaving behind a lizard with an aching tongue and who is probably wondering whether he should ever try to eat these ants again. While being propelled away from the predator, these ants are themselves spinning at 63 revolutions per second! By biting the ground, the ants have developed a new way of propelling themselves rapidly from the ground. The ants can even control the direction of their jump and tend to land upright.

    See also:

    How do such the jaws work? A closer examination of the trapjaw ants suggests that they crank their pincers wide open and they have little trigger hairs that set off the pincers to SNAP together

    Odontomachus clarus, a desert trap-jaw ant, shows off the trigger hairs of her open trap. Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona, USA.

    But, at the same time, they can use those pincers to gently move larvae around in the brood nest

    An Orectognathus versicolor trap-jaw ant handles a larva in the brood nest. Trap-jaws have independently evolved several times in different groups of predaceous ants. Brisbane, Australia.

    So, now you know why it hurts to be bitten by an ant.
    Last edited by Wise Young; 11-19-2006 at 04:38 PM.

  2. #2
    Hilarious! These little Evel Knievels flying through the air!

    I know that in different parts of the world ant jaws are used as emergency stitches to keep a wound closed. Once certain type of ants close their mandibles on the wound, their bodies are broken off from the head which keeps the jaws shut for up to a few days.

    Here's some more funny video on the flying ants.

    Last edited by cljanney; 11-19-2006 at 07:17 PM.

  3. #3
    Fantastic video. I loved the announcer's voice. So perfect. Wise.

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