|The Big Ant at Poochera|
Nothomyrmecia macrops Dinosaur Ant
Years ago I had read Edward O Wilson's book about ants, called The Ants, the only professional science work to have won a Pulitzer Prize - for general nonfiction - in 1991. In that book he tells the intriguing story about this famous ant.
The Dinosaur Ant Nothomyrmecia macrops is the world's most primitive ant and was first collected in 1931. Unfortunately the label was not very helpful so entymologists from across the world looked for the ant north of Esperence in Western Australia for 46 years. In 1977 Robert Taylor and a team of scientists was driving across Australia to look again and stopped after dusk at Poochera in South Australia. Robert was taking a nature break in the scrub and found the ant. It is now thought the EP on the label of the original specimen referred to Eyre Peninsula not Esperence. The town is now a mecca for entymologists across the world.
The ant is a beautiful golden colour and its stings are very painful for humans. Luckily only three people have been stung! The ants live in a colony underground and after dark the workers leave the nest and climb a nearby tree to look for insects. If an ant finds an insect it stings it to death and immediately takes it back underground. By dawn all the workers have returned to the nest and the entrance is obscured.
So, if you ever visit Poochera please don't step on the dinosaurs.