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Journal of Zoology







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High-speed power-amplification mechanisms are common throughout the animal kingdom. In ants, power-amplified trap-jaw mandibles have evolved independently at least four times, including once in the subfamily Ponerinae which contains the sister genera Odontomachus and Anochetus. In Odontomachus, mandible strikes have been relatively well described and can occur in −1. In contrast, the kinematics of mandible strikes have not been examined in Anochetus, whose species are smaller and morphologically distinct from Odontomachus. In this study, we describe the mandible strike kinematics of four species of Anochetus representative of the morphological, phylogenetic, and size diversity present within the genus. We also compare their strikes to two representative species of Odontomachus. We found that two species, Anochetus targionii and Anochetus paripungens, have mandible strikes that overall closely resemble those found in Odontomachus, reaching a mean maximum rotational velocity and acceleration of around 3.7 × 104 rad s−1 and 8.5 × 108 rad s−2, respectively. This performance is consistent with predictions based on body size scaling relationships described for Odontomachus. In contrast, Anochetus horridus and Anochetus emarginatus have slower strikes relative to the other species of Anochetus and Odontomachus, reaching mean maximum rotational velocity and acceleration of around 1.3 × 104 rad s−1 and 2 × 108 rad s−2, respectively. This variation in strike performance among species of Anochetus likely reflects differences in evolutionary history, physiology, and natural history among species.

Funding Number

DDIG DEB-1407279

Funding Sponsor

National Science Foundation


catapult mechanism, comparative biomechanics, Formicidae, functional morphology, kinematics, mandible strike, power amplification


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Gibson, JC, FJ Larabee, A Touchard, J Orivel, and AV Suarez. 2018. Mandible strike kinematics of the trap-jaw ant genus Anochetus Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of Zoology. 306: 119–128. doi:10.1111/jzo.12580, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.


Biological Sciences