The First Mesozoic Ants

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Science  01 Sep 1967:
Vol. 157, Issue 3792, pp. 1038-1040
DOI: 10.1126/science.157.3792.1038


Two worker ants preserved in amber of Upper Cretaceous age have been found in New Jersey. They are the first undisputed remains of social insects of Mesozoic age, extending the existence of social life in insects back to approximately 100 million years. They are also the earliest known fossils that can be assigned with certainty to aculeate Hymenoptera. The species, Sphecomyrma freyi, is considered to represent a new subfamily (Sphecomyrminae), more primitive than any previously known ant group. It forms a near-perfect link between certain nonsocial tiphiid wasps and the most primitive myrmecioid ants.