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Cannibal ‘T. Rex’ Ants Seen Live for 1st Time Ever (and They’re Shy)

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An ant named after the fierce, carnivorous dinosaur Tyrannomyrmex rex has been observed alive for the first time — and it failed to live up to the dinosaur’s reputation.

Tyrannomyrmex rex is a timid, finicky eater, new research finds. The ants can, however, turn to cannibalism in times of need.

 

 

This is a rare Tyrannomyrmex rex ant, named after none other than Tyrannosaurus rex itself.

Credit: Gordon Yong, Insect Diversity Lab/ National University of Singapore

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Until now, these Asian ants were a complete mystery to science, despite being discovered more than 20 years ago. No one had ever collected more than a single specimen, and no one had ever observed a T. rex ant alive for an extended period of time. So when biologist Mark Wong stumbled across a colony of T. rex ants while conducting an ant diversity survey in Singapore, he knew he had something important.

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