The Evolution of ants May Have Started With A Wasp

by Carl Zimmer

In the journal Current Biology, Dr. Ward and colleagues at the University of California, Davis, and the American Museum of Natural History, have now published an evolutionary tree of ants and their closest relatives that may provide the answer.

The authors conclude that the ancestors of ants were wasps. Not just any wasps, though: the closest relatives of ants turn out to include mud dauber wasps, which make pipe-shaped nests on the walls of buildings.

Scientists first started searching for the origin of ants by looking at their bodies. The oldest ant fossils are 100 million years old. But the fossils don’t offer a clear indication of what the forerunners of ants were like. Scientists were able to narrow the field by comparing ants with other living insects. They came to agree that ants were closely related to stinging wasps and bees…

(read more: NY Times)

photos: Alex Wild and Jaxo S | Flickr

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