A huge-headed "major" ant of a thorny new species collects food from smaller workers in Papua New Guineau's Muller Range during a 2009 expedition. The majors use their muscular jaws to crush seeds that the smaller workers bring back to the nest.
Like other species in the Pheidole genus, the newfound ants are all divided into workers and majors, and the new species is very opportunistic, RAP director and Conservation International entomologist Leeann Alonso told National Geographic News.
"Some ants have a specialized diet," Alonso said. But the new ants "catch live insects, scavenge for dead insects and seeds. ..."
The new species was also the first to discover the crumbs researchers had inadvertently dropped near camp. "That's actually one of the best ways to find ants," she said. "Sit down there, drop some food on the ground, and wait for them to come."
(Also see "Brain-Controlling Flies to Triumph Over Alien Ants?")