A species of trap-jaw ant has been found to exhibit a previously unseen jumping behavior, using its legs rather than its powerful jaws. The discovery makes this species,Odontomachus rixosus, the only species of ant that can jump with either its legs or its mandibles. This new finding was reported online on December 1, 2015 in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The article is titled "Snap! Trap-Jaw Ants in Borneo Also Jump Using Their Legs." "Jumping behavior in ants is incredibly rare," says Magdalena Sorger, a recent Ph.D. graduate of North Carolina State University and sole author of the paper reporting the discovery. "Out of 326 genera of ants, only three genera jump using their legs. Another three genera are known to jump using their jaws. But now we know that one species of jaw-jumping ant uses its legs as well. That's extremely interesting." It's long been known that all Odontomachus species are capable of hurling themselves through the air using their jaws, and they can do this in two ways. They can "escape jump" to flee a threat by snapping their jaws against the ground, which throws them into the air. When they do this, they often land on their backs and appear to have little control over where they land. They can also do a "bouncer defense jump," using their jaws against whatever's in front of them to propel themselves backwards. But, as with the escape jump, they often land haphazardly. But, while doing fieldwork in Borneo, Dr. Sorger observed a type of jumping behavior in O. rixosus that had never been previously reported in any Odontomachus species. The new behavior, which Dr. Sorger calls a leg-jump, appears to be used primarily, if not exclusively, as an escape mechanism.
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