New ‘silky’ ant species that grows its own gardens of fungus named for Radiohead

Main report: The Radiohead ant: A new species of ‘silky’ ant grows fungus gardens for foo
(Pensoft Blog)
Other Reporting: Billboard, Daily Mail
Scientific Paper: Zookeys    (Plazi Treatment)
New Taxa: Sericomyrmex radioheadi
Species named for: Radiohead
Categories: Celebrity Taxa | Insects | New Species

One of three new species of fungus-farming ants, Sericomyrmex radioheadi, collected in the Venezuelan Amazon, was named after the famous British music band Radiohead.  “We wanted to honor their music” one of the authors, Ana Ješovnik, says. “But more importantly, we wanted to acknowledge the conservation efforts of the band members, especially in raising climate-change awareness.  Using a scanning electron microscope, the authors found that the body of the new fungus-farming ants are covered with a white, crystal-like layer. Both the chemical composition and the function of this layer are unclear, though it is suspected that the layer is microbial in origin and that it has a role in protecting the ants and their gardens from parasites.

Head of the new species, Sericomyrmex radioheadi. Credit: Ana Ješovnik

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