Insects

A frog's vomit reveals a new species of ant

The new ant species, as shown in the journal ZooKeys.

The new ant species, as shown in the journal ZooKeys.  (Christian Rabeling, Jeffrey Sosa-Calvo, Lauren A. O'Connell, Luis A. Coloma, Fernando Fernandez)

In northwest Ecuador, scientists have discovered a new species of ant— and they found it in the stomach contents of a poison dart frog.

The new ant species is called Lenomyrmex hoelldobleri, and the specimen had been eaten by a frog, a bright orange amphibian called Oophaga sylvatica that is also called “diablito” in Spanish, which means little devil.

“Sometimes people think that our world is very well explored,” the lead scientist behind the discovery, Christian Rabeling, an assistant professor at the University of Rochester, said, according to National Geographic. “Nothing could be farther from the truth.”

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In this case, the frog— which likes to eat ants and dwells in the rainforest—  produced the new species of ant when the researchers got a sample from inside the amphibian by flushing its stomach contents out with a tube, National Geographic explained.

As of now, the scientists behind the discovery— who hail from the United States, Ecuador, and Colombia—  have just one specimen of the new ant species, which is described in the journal ZooKeys. The researchers report that they named the new ant after an ant-loving colleague, Bert Hölldobler, for his 80th birthday.

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