Ant Opts Out of the Hexapods

While sorting through a sifted leaf litter (berlese) sample, I came across an Aphaenogaster carolinensis that just looked odd.  I pulled it out and it took me a second to realize she was missing two (hind) legs and her petiole was fused to her thorax.  As ants normally move in an alternating tripod gait, I wondered how she could carry objects without falling over… and ran across this new gem of an article.

[Karin Moll, Flavio Roces, and Walter Federle, ‘How Load-Carrying Ants Avoid Falling Over: Mechanical Stability During Foraging in Atta Vollenweideri Grass-Cutting Ants’, Plos One, 8 (2013)]  …

photo4leggedant1

Picture on the left is through my microscope and to the right is the pinned specimen with background removed for clarity.

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