New Ant Species: U.S. Biologists Name 33 Kinds Of Central American And Caribbean Ants, Some After Ancient Mayan Lords And Demons

By iScience Times Staff on August 1, 2013 5:15 PM EDT

new ant
U.S. biologists from the University of Utah have identified 33 new ant species (not pictured), and they look mini monsters from an alien planet. (Photo: John T. Longino, University of)
new ant
This is Eurhopalothrix zipacna, one of the 33 new species discovered in Central America. It is named for a violent Mayan demon that looks like a crocodile. (Photo: John T. Longino, University of)

New ant species are being identified by U.S. biologists, and the critters are so terrifying some of them are being named after ancient Mayan gods of death. University of Utah scientists have named 33 new species of predatory ants native to Central America and the Caribbean.

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The International Business Times reports that the new ant species are less than one-twelfth to one-twenty-fifth of an inch long, and they prey on things like soft-bodied insects, spiders, millipedes and centipedes.

"These new ant species are the stuff of nightmares" when viewed under a microscope, entomologist Jack Longino, a professor of biology, said in a press release on the University website. "Their faces are broad shields, the eyes reduced to tiny points at the edges and the fierce jaws bristling with sharp teeth."

To collect the ants, Longino and his colleagues sifted through soil in Central America. He's been collecting ants and other insects to identify them for the past 30 years.

Longino's findings were published in two studies in the journal Zootaxa, one of which came out Monday.

Some of the more notable new ant species names include Eurhopalothrix hunhau, which is a major Mayan god of death and a master of the underworld, and Eurhopalothrix xibalba, meaning "place of fear."

Read more from iScience Times:

Robot Fire Ants: How Can Insect Behavior Improve Search-And-Rescue Technology?

Crazy Ants Invading the Southeast: How Can Rasberry Ants Destroy Your Television? [VIDEO]

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