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researchers have recently discovered 92-million-year old fossilised ants. With this discovery, it has become clear that these omnipresent insects have been on the Earth for more than twice as long as what was previously thought. Entomologists at the American Museum of Natural History in New York found the ants in Cliffwood Beach in New Jersey, usa , at a site well known for its insect fossils.
David Grimaldi, head of the museum's department of entomology says that the discovery of a fossilised specimen of a primitive, extinct ant species named Sphercomyrma Freyi resolves a decade-old question about the insect: is it an ant, or is it a wasp? The insect's head is wasplike; but the waist -- antlike; while the antennae are somewhere in between.
So far, the entomologists could not find evidence in the tiny flattened fossils that the ants had the crucial metapleural gland, an organ found above the hind leg that produces antibiotic-like substances that keep the underground passages and trails from becoming choked with fungus and hazardous bacterial growth. Without that gland, the ants' famed social structure could never have developed. Grimaldi says his team is able to prove that these insects did sport a metapleural gland. Sphercomyrma is thus an ant.