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Odontomachus bauri
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Ponerinae
Genus: Odontomachus
Species: O. bauri
Binomial name
Odontomachus bauri
Emery, 1892

Odontomachus bauri is a species of ponerinae ant. It is found from southern Costa Rica throughout tropical South America, the West Indies (without Cuba and Bahamas), and on the Galapagos Islands.



Species within Odontomachus are commonly known as trap-jaw ants. They have a pair of large, straight mandibles capable of opening 180 degrees. These jaws are locked in place by an internal mechanism, and can snap shut on prey or objects when sensory hairs on the inside of the mandibles are touched. The mandibles are powerful and fast, giving the ant its common name. The mandibles either kill or maim the prey, allowing the ant to bring it back to the nest. Odontomachus can simply lock and snap its jaws again if one bite is not enough, or to cut off bits of larger food. The mandibles also permit slow and fine movements for other tasks such as nest building and care of larvae.[1]

Speed record

Trap-jaw ants of this species have the fastest moving predatory appendages within the animal kingdom.[1] One study recorded peak speeds of between 126 and 230 km/h (78 - 143 mph), with the jaws closing within just 130 microseconds on average. The peak force exerted was in the order of 300 times the body weight of the ant. The ants were also observed to use their jaws as a catapult to eject intruders or fling themselves backwards to escape a threat.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Patek SN, Baio JE, Fisher BL, Suarez AV (22 August 2006). "Multifunctionality and mechanical origins: Ballistic jaw propulsion in trap-jaw ants" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103 (34): 12787–12792. doi:10.1073/pnas.0604290103. PMID 16924120. Retrieved 7 June 2008.  

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