Mandible strike kinematics of the trap-jaw ant genus Anochetus Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

J. C. Gibson, F. J. Larabee, A. Touchard, J. Orivel, A. V. Suarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High-speed power-amplification mechanisms are common throughout the animal kingdom. In ants, power-amplified trap-jaw mandibles have evolved independently at least four times, including once in the subfamily Ponerinae which contains the sister genera Odontomachus and Anochetus. In Odontomachus, mandible strikes have been relatively well described and can occur in <0.15 ms and reach speeds of over 60 m s−1. In contrast, the kinematics of mandible strikes have not been examined in Anochetus, whose species are smaller and morphologically distinct from Odontomachus. In this study, we describe the mandible strike kinematics of four species of Anochetus representative of the morphological, phylogenetic, and size diversity present within the genus. We also compare their strikes to two representative species of Odontomachus. We found that two species, Anochetus targionii and Anochetus paripungens, have mandible strikes that overall closely resemble those found in Odontomachus, reaching a mean maximum rotational velocity and acceleration of around 3.7 × 104 rad s−1 and 8.5 × 108 rad s−2, respectively. This performance is consistent with predictions based on body size scaling relationships described for Odontomachus. In contrast, Anochetus horridus and Anochetus emarginatus have slower strikes relative to the other species of Anochetus and Odontomachus, reaching mean maximum rotational velocity and acceleration of around 1.3 × 104 rad s−1 and 2 × 108 rad s−2, respectively. This variation in strike performance among species of Anochetus likely reflects differences in evolutionary history, physiology, and natural history among species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-128
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Zoology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Formicidae
  • catapult mechanism
  • comparative biomechanics
  • functional morphology
  • kinematics
  • mandible strike
  • power amplification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


Dive into the research topics of 'Mandible strike kinematics of the trap-jaw ant genus Anochetus Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this