Thaumatomyrmex strips millipedes for prey: a novel predatory behaviour in ants, and the first case of sympatry in the genus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
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We describe, for the first time, the predatory behaviour ofThaumatomyrmex ants on millipedes of the family Polyxenidae, based on field observations ofT. atrox and a field and laboratory study ofT. contumax. The capture of the prey and the removal process of its body-covering setae by the ants before they eat the millipede are described. This specialized behaviour in at least two species of the genus, belonging to two distinct groups of species, indicates a general trend inThaumatomyrmex. We coupled this study with a comparative morphological analysis of the mouthparts and digestive tube of these and otherThaumatomyrmex species. Also, we report the first case of sympatry in the genus, which suggests thatThaumatomyrmex includes several species, and not only one highly variable taxon, as hypothetized earlier.
Key wordsThaumatomyrmex taxonomy comparative morphology predation Polyxenidae
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