A novel mechanism for jumping in the Indian ant Harpegnathos saltator (Jerdon) (Formicidae, Ponerinae)
Baroni Urbani, Cesare × Boyan, George S. Blarer, A. Billen, Johan Musthak Ali, T.M. #
Birkhauser verlag ag
Experientia vol:50 issue:1 pages:63-71
The Indian ant Harpegnathos saltator may be unique among insects in using its jumping capacity not only as an escape mechanism but also as a normal means of locomotion, and for catching its prey in flight. High-speed cinematography used to analyse the various phases of the jump suggests that Harpegnathos employs a novel jumping mechanism to mediate these behaviours: namely the synchronous activation of its middle and hindlegs. Electrophysiological recordings from muscles or nerves in pairs of middle and hindlegs show remarkably synchronous activity during fictive jumping, supporting the synchronous activation hypothesis. Harpegnathos is not the only ant to jump, and a cladistic analysis suggests that jumping behaviour evolved independently three times during ant evolutionary history.