Ants are a family of insects developed worldwide, with thousands of different species active. This extreme variety is united by a series of morphological characteristics, among which we find the mandibles. According to a recent study, some ants have sharp “metal mandibles.”
Ants use mandibular portions to tear, tear and transport, in relation to nutrition or for specific uses depending on the species.
A research team, led by Robert Schofield, a physicist from the University of Oregon in Eugene, using microscope images, analyzed the jaws of the species Atta cephalotes, known as leaf-cut ant.
From these observations, the team established that on the mandibular surface there is a uniform layer of zinc, which would allow the species to’s sharpen’ its mandibular instruments, whose structural proteins are closely linked to the zinc atoms of the metal layer.
The researchers also compared the mandibular apparatus of different species of insects and arthropods, consisting mainly of phosphate and calcium carbonate together with the structural protein chitin (constitute of the exoskeleton that will allow to colonize Mars), found that the
The researchers have estimated the power of the bite of the species under consideration that the jaws thus formed and sharp, called biomineralized with heavy elements, are more efficient in cutting and piercing, exploiting 40% less muscle strength
Thanks to this atypical and ingenious trick, these ants can obtain sharp tools, which allow them to manipulate, cut and tear materials (such as leaves) that, in proportion to their size, are too resistant, also because
The study shows another of the innumerable and incredible characteristics of ants, creatures capable of creating immense “subterranean cities.”