I’m reading a EurekAlert report on entomologists sitting ringside watching the fastest boxers in the world – trap-jaw ants:
In a new study, entomologists at the University of Illinois and North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences measured the speed at which different species of trap-jaw ants strike one another during antenna-boxing bouts.
Like bees, ants have a hierarchy of roles within the colony. Trap-jaw ant species engage in antennal “boxing,” a quick fight involving striking one another with their antennae, to determine which of the worker ants stay in the nest and which go out to forage, [Illinois researcher Sean] O’Fallon said.
To better understand this behavior, the researchers used high-speed cameras to record antenna-boxing matches in four species of trap-jaw ants. They then counted how rapidly each species pummeled their opponents.
The speeds ranged from 19.5 strikes per second for Odontomachus rixosus, hailing from Cambodia, to a blazing-fast 41.5 strikes per second for Odontomachus brunneus, native to Florida, the researchers found.
“Trap-jaw ants are the fastest boxers ever recorded,” Smith said. “Describing how fast multiple species box each other helps us understand how this behavior evolves. For instance, we found that when one species uses boxing as a form of aggression, the behavior is indistinguishable from boxing as a social dominance interaction between colony members.”