Due to a strange resemblance to the mythical dragons in ‘Game of Thrones’, two newly found ant species in Papua New Guinea have been named as Pheidole drogon and Pheidole viserion. In the research paper published in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists have shared that these ants have amazing outer and inner structure.
The ants have spikes coming out from their backs, said study’s lead researcher Eli Sarnat. These spikes might be meant for effective protection against predators. The researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have used advanced 3D imaging technology to describe the two groups of ant species and then came up with 3D galleries for each of them.
The researchers have also utilized the technology to assess the spines of ants to understand their function. According to the researchers, the ants are of two types- major and minor workers. There are subtle differences in both of them.
Minor ants have the proportion of an average ant, and major workers have large heads. The massive heads support large mandibles, jaws. These mandibles help the major ants to break tough food sources to share with the colony.
Therefore, it was hypothesized that spines on the shoulders evolved in the major ants to make more muscles that could be used to support the over-sized heads. In order to test the hypothesis, the researchers have used the scanning.
From the assessment, the researchers came to know that muscle tissues are present only in the shoulder spines of the major workers.