Discovery of oldest known ant fossils

The ants are one of the most successful extant species, until now believed to have first appeared about 40 million years ago. With the wasps, bees, and termites, they are remarkable as invertebr- ates exhibiting colonies that involve division of labor and a complex social organization. The so-called "Turonian" geologic stage (92 million years ago) corresponds approximately to the Upper or Middle Cretaceous period. ... ... Agosti et al (3 authors at American Museum of Natural History New York, US) now report fossil ants, including a new genus of Ponerinae, approximately 50 million years older than the previous oldest specimens. The discoveries were made in New Jersey (US) in amber from the Turonian stage, and include 3 worker and 4 male ants. The authors suggest the specimens have important implications for dating the origin of ants, and extend the age of an extant ant subfamily back about 50 million years.

QY:Donat Agosti
Nature 29 Jan 98

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