Oecophylla smaragdina

Weightlifting ants

Friday, February 19th, 2010 | Ants, Behavior, Education, Science | 3 Comments
Oecophylla smaragdina

"Oecophylla smaragdina can carry more than 100 times its own body weight while upside down on a smooth surface, thanks to its sticky feet." Image: Thomas Endlein, University of Cambridge via NewScientist

NewScientist posted photographs from the competition held by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to showcase images of their latest research. In a single iconic image, the first one shows the weight that an ant is capable of carrying and how strong the suction devices in her feet are.

I have blogged about these adhesive devices in the ant’s feets before (called arolia in leet speak, singular arolium), and the very first image I used back then happens to be from the same ant species in the image above.

Foot of a Oecophylla smaragdina worker. Pretarsal claws and manubrium in red; arolium in yellow; tarsi in green (Scanning Electron Micrograph, Roberto Keller/AMNH)

(h/t to P. Beldade)

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Homology Weekly: Arolium

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 | Ants, Homology Weekly, Morphology | 3 Comments
Foot of a <em>Oecophylla smaragdina</em> worker. Pretarsal claws and manubrium in red; arolium in yellow; tarsi in green (Scanning Electron Micrograph, Roberto Keller/AMNH)

Foot of a Oecophylla smaragdina worker. Pretarsal claws and manubrium in red; arolium in yellow; tarsi in green (Scanning Electron Micrograph, Roberto Keller/AMNH)

This orchid-looking thing is really the foot of an ant. The large unfolded structure in between the powerful pair of claws is the adhesive organ of the foot called arolium (pl. arolia). It is basically a soft membranous bag folded into a suction cup that allows the ant to walk on vertical or upside down smooth surfaces.

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