Stumble Upon Toolbar Panamanian termite can kill nest invaders in one hit

By | November 25, 2008

The termite Termes panamensis (Snyder) can kill a would-be nest invader just by hitting it once on its head, according to a new study.

Marc Seid and Jeremy Niven, post-doctoral fellows at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Rudolf Scheffrahn from the University of Florida, say that the Panamanian termite possesses the fastest mandible strike ever recorded. …  The team captured footage of the soldier termite”s jaws, as they struck an invader at almost 70 meters per second, on a high-speed video camera in the laboratory at 40,000 frames per second.

“Many insects move much faster than a human eye can see so we knew that we needed high speed cameras to capture their behaviour, but we weren”t expecting anything this fast. …
As to what makes the termites so fast … the force for the blow is stored by deforming the jaws, which are held pressed against one another until the strike is triggered. …

“The termites need to store energy to generate enough destructive force. They appear to store the energy in their mandibles but we still don”t know how they do this—that”s the next question,” says Niven. – phenom

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