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“Ghost” – Scientists Discover Mysterious Creature Coming Out of the Shadows in Australia

“Ghost” – Scientists Discover Mysterious Creature Coming Out of the Shadows in Australia

A new species of ant, Leptanilla waldemart, has been discovered in Australia's Pilbara region. It is characterized by its pale, slender shape and subterranean habitat, highlighting the unique biodiversity and ecological mysteries of this ancient landscape. Credit: Mark KL Wong, Jane M. McRae

In the sunny Pilbara region of northwestern Australia, researchers have discovered a mysterious creature emerging from the shadows: a new ant. species Kind of elusive In Lepton.

new species, Lieutenant VoldemortL. Voldemort Briefly, it is a pale ant with a slender figure, spindly legs and long, sharp jaws. The species' name pays homage to the fearsome dark wizard Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, with the ant's ghostly, slimy appearance and the dark subterranean environment from which it originated.

Scientists Dr Mark Wong from the University of Western Australia and Jane McRae of Pennalongia Environmental Consultants describe this intriguing new species in a paper published in the Open Access journal. ZooKeys.

Frontal view of Leptanilla voldemort, showing its pointed mandibles. Credit: Mark KL Wong, Jane M. McRae

Lieutenant Voldemort The discovery was made during an ecological survey documenting underground animals in the arid Pilbara region of northwestern Australia. Only two specimens of this strange new species of ant have been discovered. Both were collected in a net lowered into a 25-meter borehole and efficiently retrieved while scraping the interior surface of the borehole – an innovative technique for collecting subsurface organisms known as “subsurface scraping”.

Distinctive features and speculations

compared to others In Lepton species of ants, L. Voldemort It has a very slender body and long, spindly antennae and legs. This unusual morphology, combined with its collection from a 25-meter-deep borehole, made experts wonder if it really lived on land like other species. In Lepton species, or exploit another subterranean refuge such as air-filled voids and fissures formed in rock layers deep underground.

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Long, sharp jaws L. VoldemortHowever, leave a little to the imagination.

Two individuals of Leptanilla voldemort collected in the Pilbara

Two individuals of Leptanilla voldemort collected in the Pilbara. Credit: Mark KL Wong, Jane M. McRae

Lieutenant Voldemort Almost certainly a predator, a formidable predator in the dark. This is supported by what we know from some observations of specialized hunting behavior in other countries. In Lepton Ant species use their sharp jaws and powerful stingers to immobilize soil-dwelling centipedes larger than themselves before carrying their larvae to feed on the carcass,” said Dr Wong, lead author of the study.

Perfect prey L. VoldemortHowever, unknown, although various underground InvertebratesCentipedes, including beetles and flies, were collected from the same area.

Context of invention

There are more than 14,000 species of ants in the world, but only about 60 belong to this enigmatic genus. In Lepton. Unlike most ants, all species In Lepton Hypogean – Their small colonies, usually only one queen and a hundred workers, nest and feed exclusively underground. Adapting to living in the dark, In Lepton The workers are blind and colourless. Lilliputian members of the ant world, these ants measure just 1 to 2 millimeters — larger than a grain of sand — allowing them to move effortlessly through the soil. Due to their small size, pale color and unique underground habitats, In Lepton These species are challenging even for expert ant scientists, and much of their biology is shrouded in mystery.

Topography of the Pilbara region

General topography of the Pilbara region. Credit: Mark KL Wong, Jane M. McRae

Australia is estimated to have one of the highest ant diversity in the world – from 1,300 to more than 5,000 species. L. Voldemort Only the second In Lepton Species found on the continent. First, Swan LeptanillaDescribed almost a century ago – from a small colony discovered under a rock in 1931 – and almost never noticed.

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Formed around 3.6 billion years ago, the Pilbara is one of the oldest landmasses on Earth. Despite the scorching summers and low rainfall, the region is home to globally significant subterranean invertebrate radiations. Adding to the unique biodiversity of this ancient landscape was the discovery of the enigmatic ant L. Voldemort A witness to the magic of nature and the mysteries of life in the depths of darkness.