Scary new ant species named after equally terrifying Game of Thrones dragons

Scary new ant species named after equally terrifying Game of Thrones dragons

The Game of Thrones fantasy world is now dictating science. Two new ant species discovered in New Guinea have been named after two of Daenerys Targaryan’s dragons.

Traditionally, scientists use weird (often boring) Latin words for new species. This time, researchers dubbed two new Pheidole — a widespread ant genus — Drogon and Viserion.

Yup, those are two of Mhysa’s scary-ass dragons on Game of Thrones.

The cause for this new naming scheme were the ant’s spikes. Scientists couldn’t help but notice they looked very dragon-like:

The group is most readily identified by the minor worker caste, which has extremely long pronotal spines and strongly bifurcating propodeal spines.

journal.pone.0156709.g014

The pronotal spines, those nearest the head, are believed to be supportive as these ants have unusually large heads. Scientists are hypothesizing that the spines are actually there for defense.

They also think the spines may be there to help the ants crush stuff with their mandibles. If muscles exist in those spines, they are likely connected to the mandibles — which helps with head support, but may also serve as a backup power supply for chomping seeds and such.

Or killing everything in sight, as dragons are wont to do.

via Gizmodo

Inordinate Spinescence: Taxonomic Revision and Microtomography of the Pheidole cervicornis Species Group (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) on PLOS One

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