Thursday, August 31, 2006


I have no idea what this photo is about but it is awesome. It came up on a google image search. You can find the original webpage here, but it is all in German.
Update -- 3.5.07: So sad, this link no longer seems to exist. It was a fantastic page in German showing several gigantic models of Cephalotes in various artistic poses. I was never sure what the purpose was, and I guess now I'll never know.

Alright, enough philosophy for now. Back to work!

I have updated my Cephalotes page. Scott Powell was able to look at my Cephalotes and return them to me fairly quickly. Yay! Today I was able to go over his identifications and compare them to my original identifications, and re-evaluate my evaluations. My final list of Tiputini Cephalotes is:

Cephalotes atratus
Cephalotes cordatus
Cephalotes laminatus
Cephalotes maculatus
Cephalotes manni
Cephalotes marginatus
Cephalotes minutus
Cephalotes n. sp. near maculatus
Cephalotes n. sp. near palta
Cephalotes opacus
Cephalotes pallidus
Cephalotes pavonii
Cephalotes peruviensis
Cephalotes ramiphilus
Cephalotes spinosus
Cephalotes umbraculatus

I don't have any new photos, but hopefully soon. I know how helpful those can be. I had 9 specimens which I was unable to identify. He was able to put a name on almost all of them, while identifying two possible new species. I also gave him 13 samples of the species I had identified, and he confirmed some of them and disagreed with others. Here are some details that might help someone else if they are trying to identify Cephalotes:

Original ID: palustris; Actual ID: pavonii

Scott says: "C. pavonii vs. C. palustris. C. pavonii has longitudinal rugae on the plurae and a soft margin between hairs and smooth propodeal face (palustris has a very hard, well-defined margin)." I was a little confused as to what "plurae" meant but I believe this refers to the lateral sides of the mesosoma.

Original ID: atratus; Actual ID: marginatus

says Scott: "ID based on erect hairs on gaster, distinct spines on petiole and postpetiole (postpetiole spines larger than those on petiole), and distinct median spines on large pronotal spines (small median denticels or absent in atratus). Overall this specimen differs significantly from any of the atratus I have seen and I am confident that it is marginatus." In going over the rest of my atratus specimens I found that it was difficult for me to tell the difference between the median spines on the pronotal spines in atratus and marginatus. Many of the atratus spines seemed quite distinct. However, the other two characteristics were easy to distinguish.

Original ID: inaequalis; Actual ID: laminatus (soldier)

Scott says: "Frontal carinae do not pass posterior border of eyes, are slightly upturned laterally, and strongly converge towards the mandibles. These characters differentiate the soldier of this species from that of C. inaequalis."

Original ID: C. bohlsi; Actual ID: manni

Scott says: "I ID this species as C. manii. This specimen has very broad petiole spines that are much broader than the postpetiole. By comparison C. bohlsi has short rounded spines on the petiole." Looking back at the key, these two are completely different. Not sure what I was thinking.

Original ID: cordiventris; Actual ID: ramiphilus

Scott says: "Clearest characters separating this from C. cordiventris are the rounder pronotal projections and the shorter propodeal spines."

Original ID: unknown; Actual ID: C. pallidus (I think!)

Scott says: "This is a strange specimen. It appears to be a soldier that is incompletely differentiated. Put another way, it is clearly a soldier, but many of the characters are weakly formed and are somewhat intermediate between worker and soldier. Still, it is definitely a species from the pallens clade, and I am fairly sure it is C. pallidus, particularly when trying to interpolate between worker and soldier characters." I had originally identified this specimen as pallidus, but then decided it couldn't possibly be pallidus, and changed it to unknown. I am pleased to see that I was originally correct and also that I wasn't crazy to be hesitant in calling it pallidus.

Original ID: unknown; Actual ID: Near C. maculatus?

Scott says: "I ID this specimen to the pinelii clade but it does not appear to match any of the known species. It seems closest to C. maculatus, but it differs in a number of important ways, including very different sculpturing on the cephalic disc. and different spines/expansions on the petiole and postpetiole. New species?"

Original ID: unknown; Actual ID: Near C. palta?

Scott says: "I have to say that I can't get to a species for this either. I get to C. palta but it does not seem to be this speices. Ruling out an error on my part, this could also be a new species."

Original ID: unknown and conspersus; Actual ID: peruviensis

Scott says: "I ID both of these specimens as C. peruviensis (despite some size variation). I am quite confident of this ID, but then again, C. peruviensis is only known from a single specimen, so without comparing them side by side there is the chance that your specimens represent and new species very closely related (sister?) to C. peruviensis. The key characters in the ID are the very unusual morphology of the postpetiole spines, the flat depressed hairs over the mesosoma and head, and the ring of erect hairs around the frontal carinae. For these reasons I am confident that 2605152 is not C. conspersus."

Some other cephalotes resources:

Costa Rica guide to Cephalotes
pretty pictures
gliding ants
Discoverlife list of species
hymenoptera name server with original description, synonyms, etc.
antfarm discussion forum
tree of life -- Cephalotini
Another Costa Rica guide
Article on microorganisms in their gut
nesting habits and occurrence in animal carcass

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