A novel mechanism for jumping in the indian ant Harpegnathos saltator (Jerdon) (Formicidae, Ponerinae)

  • Urbani C
  • Boyan G
  • Blarer A
 et al. 
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Abstract

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, & 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 behaviors: namely the synchronous activation of its middle & hindlegs. Electrophysiological recordings from muscles or nerves in pairs of middle & hindlegs show remarkably synchronous activity during fictive jumping, supporting the synchronous activation hypothesis. Harpegnathos is not the only ant to jump, & a cladistic analysis suggests that jumping behaviour evolved independently 3 times during ant evolutionary history.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Insect
  • behaviour
  • electrophysiology
  • evolution
  • high-speed cinematography
  • jumping

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Authors

  • C. Baroni Urbani

  • G. S. Boyan

  • A. Blarer

  • J. Billen

  • T. M. Musthak Ali

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