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Meet the newest ‘exploding ant’ that sacrifices itself for the good of the colony

Scientists identify 15 new species that burst with sticky goo when threatened

Researchers have discovered 15 new species of ants that explode when they feel threatened. Here, the Colobopsis explodens raises its posterior in a defensive position. (Alexey Kopchinskiy)A major worker of Colobopsis explodens, with its characteristically enlarged head. (Heinz Wiesbauer)

“The evolution of the explosion behaviour and the diverse body types of the castes are amazing,” lead Laciny said.

Mysteries to solve

Rather than living below-ground, as many other species of ants do, these ants are found in the canopies of the forests, which was part of the research challenge all these decades.

But with special climbing equipment and expertise, co-author of the paper Alexey Kopchinsky was able to explore the trees, shedding light on these poorly understood species.

And, while the researchers are pleased to have discovered more species of these unique ants, there’s still more to uncover.

Only now are they beginning to study these ants in better detail, which includes chemical, microbiological, behavioural and anatomical analyses.

The researchers have identified Colobopsis explodens in this new paper, but it will serve as model species as they continue to uncover more secrets about the ant once simply referred to as “Yellow Goo.”

Nicole has an avid interest in all things science. As an amateur astronomer, Nicole can be found looking up at the night sky appreciating the marvels of our universe. She is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the author of several books.

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