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Meet the fastest animal on Earth – and it is not a cheetah.
The Dracula ant can snap its jaws at an incredible 200mph (320kph), which is 5,000 times faster than the blink of an eye.
The tiny creature, just a few millimetres in size, has been officially named the fastest moving living animal, beating the cheetah, whose record running speed is 60mph (96kph). Dracula ants, found in Africa, Australia and south east Asia, use their jaws like a catapult, pushing them together to build up tension before they fly apart.
The force created is strong enough to knock out the centipedes the ants hunt so they can drag them back to their nest to feed to their young. It is also a powerful fighting move, which can slam a rival ant against the wall of a log. While they are less headline-grabbing than cheetahs, invertebrates like termites and ants have the fastest movements in the animal kingdom because of their spring-loaded jaws.
Photo: Ant lab (Daily Mail) /Dracula Ant’s jaws
Scientists confirmed the Dracula ant is the very fastest using cutting-edge video technology. Professor Andrew Suarez, a co-author of the research from the University of Illinois, said: ‘These ants are fascinating as their mandibles are very unusual. Their powerful jaws work like a mousetrap, except the latch and spring mechanism are all in one.”
The ants use this motion to smack other arthropods, likely stunning them, smashing them against a tunnel wall or pushing them away.’
Dracula ants are known as ‘snap-jaw’ ants instead of the ‘trap-jaw’ ants which slam their jaws shut to eat tasty insects. Instead of pushing their jaws together, they slide one across the other in a motion which takes only 23 microseconds.
The ants that drink the blood of their young
Dracula ants were given their name for their habit of feasting on the blood of their larvae. This does not kill the larvae, just drains blood.
Dracula ants were discovered in 1994. At 200mph, their jaw motion is three times faster than that of trap-jaw ants, the previous record holders.