I am going to take advantage of figures I prepared for a talk I gave recently, where I had to explain a diagnostic characteristic of ants during the introduction. As I have mentioned before, ants are peculiar among wasps and bees in that their mouthparts are directed forward, rather than downward, in a condition known as prognathy (pro-, anterior, projecting; -gnathus, jaw).
Forget the Friday winter break parties at the workplace, I’m stuck at home preparing slides for a short talk I’ll be giving on Monday. I’m not complaining though. This is the Portuguese meeting on evolutionary biology I mentioned earlier. The odd date (the 21st of December for the past four years) is to accommodate all the nationals pursuing Ph.D.s and postdocs abroad that come home during the holidays.
The meeting is organized by young researches, and this year will be specially interesting because there will be a discussion about creating a national society of evolutionary biologists.
I will be talking about the evolution of mouthparts within ants, covering some fascinating new discoveries that I haven’t share here yet but will blog about some time in the near future. In the mean time, here are a couple of my slides.
This image shows the mouthparts of a trap-jaw ant in resting position. The only structures really visible are the prominent elongated mandibles (in yellow) that project forward. The rest of the pieces, laying immediately below, are retracted inside the preoral cavity.
- Tom Waits