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New species of elusive, sinister ant named after Lord Voldemort

Western Australian researchers Mark Wong and Jane McRae have recently described a diminutive new species of unearthly looking ant in the journal ZooKeys, naming it after the infamous Harry Potter villain Lord Voldemort.

The new, ghostly looking species, Leptanilla voldemort, is a rare find in Australia, with only one other Leptanilla species, L. swani, known in Australia. This new subterranean ant species was found only after researchers collected specimens from a 25 metre deep hole in the Pilbrara region of Western Australia. The authors note that, much like its namesake, L. voldemort is slender, pale, has sharp fangs and thrives in darkness.

Profile view of Leptanilla voldemort. Credit: Mark K. L. Wong, Jane M. McRae.

Leptanilla voldemort is not only notable for its unusual appearance, but also its significance to our understanding of ant evolution. A recent paper published in the journal Nature has resolved Leptanilla as a group of ants that are sister to all other ant species globally.

While the Pilbara is an economically valuable region, discoveries like these remind us that there are also incredibly valuable, globally important discoveries to be made in remote areas across Australia.

Full Article:

Mark K. L. Wong and Jane M. McRae

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