|Impression of Ceratomyrmex ellenbergi by Joschua Knüppe|
It appears that Ceratomyrmex represents an exaggeration of these haidomyrmecine traits. The elevated setose portion of the clypeus* is extended forwards and to a tremendous length (hence the nickname "unicorn ant") and has been warped into a spatulate shape, with pegs restricted to its spoon-like tip and setae running the process' length. Just below the base of the antennal sockets emanate trigger hairs, which are correspondingly longer than in any other haidomyrmecine: indeed, they are more like whiskers than anything else (Perrichot et al., 2016).
|Anochetus sp. (Ponerinae) with mandibles in striking position; photographed by Alex Wild (who else?)|
Without a doubt, we can add the "unicorn ant" to the long list of insects that we wish still lived on this planet.
*An insect mouthpart articulating with the frons (i.e., face), from which emanates the labrum.
Barden, P. and Grimaldi, D. (2013). A new genus of highly specialized ants in Cretaceous Burmese amber (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa, 3681(4), 405-412. Retrieved 12/24/15 from http://www.mapress.com/zootaxa/2013/f/zt03681p412.pdf
Perrichot, V.; Wang, B.; and Engel, M. S. (2016). Extreme Morphogenesis and Ecological Specialization among Cretaceous Basal Ants. Current Biology, 26, 1468-1472. Retrieved 7/27/16 from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303544013_Extreme_Morphogenesis_and_Ecological_Specialization_among_Cretaceous_Basal_Ants