A friend of mine recently shared with me a story from CNN in which humans, per Solomon’s instructions, look to the ant, consider its ways, and are wise. Researchers have developed a digital camera that actually mimics the eye of various insects, including the fire ant. Below is the image included in the article:
This is certainly an impressive feat, and may lead to advances in cameras for both wide-angle purposes and small spaces like those in the human body. Less impressive is the inclusion of the “fire ant” in the photo, which is, incidentally, not a fire ant (genus Solenopsis). I believe that this is actually some sort of Pheidole species, but I’m not sure. I was first suspicious due to the rugosity (bumpiness) of the exoskelton, which is not something I typically associate with the rather smooth fire ants, but two other definitive traits soon presented themselves. The first is the presence of spines on the “propodeum”, the last segment of the “mesosoma” (the middle section of the ant which looks like a thorax, but is actually both the thorax and part of the abdomen fused to the thorax). Solenopsis species lack such spines. The second trait is the number of segments of the club of the ant’s antennae. Solenopsis species only have a two-segmented club, while this individual has a four-segmented club (like in some Pheidole and other genera). See the image below:
So, in summary: cool discovery, bad taxonomy.