Blood-sucking dracula ant sets the new record for fastest animal

There’s a new fastest animal on Earth and it’s … an ant.

Sorry if we disappointed you, but believe it or not this little — and somewhat terrifying — guy has taken out the new record. And he’s found in Australia.

Known as the Dracula ant, its jaws snaps shut 5000 times quicker than the blink of an eye.

The speedy critter uses a snapping mechanism to quickly slide its mandibles across each other, similar to a finger snap.

It sucks the blood of its larvae for food, hence the name, and uses its snap jaw to eat other bugs or to defend itself.

The Dracula ant is one of at least six lineages of ants that have evolved with power-amplified jaws adapted for high-speed movements.

Scientists recorded footage of the jaws going from zero to 320km/h in 0.000015 seconds, making it the fastest known animal movement.

The speed can determine whether it catches food or gets eaten by a predator.

In a study, published today, scientists said the fastest animal movements incorporate latches and springs into their appendages to overcome muscle power limits.

“We also discovered that snap-jaw mandible shape is specialized for bending, consistent with their use as a flexible spring,” they said.

“These results extend our understanding of animal speed and demonstrate how small changes in shape can result in dramatic differences in performance.”

This particular species is restricted to Australia, tropical Africa and South-East Asia.

Because of their cryptic habits, they are rare to collect.

Researchers, led by the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, said they wanted to better understand a gap in the knowledge of animal performance, with detailed information about snap-jaw mechanisms lacking.

This story originally appeared in news.com.au.