Ant jaws break speed record

Posted on November 22, 2006 

Ant jaws break speed record, propel insects into air, biologists find
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.

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.

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)

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