SCIENCE

'Game Of Thrones' Responsible For Naming Of New Ant Species

  • Osvaldo Nunez , Design & Trend Contributor
  • Jul, 29, 2016, 05:54 PM
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Dragon ant
(Photo : Courtesy of Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology) Scientists have discovered two new ant species that they are comparing to dragons, especially the ones from the popular TV show, “Game of Thrones.”

Scientists have discovered two new ant species that they are comparing to dragons, especially the ones from the popular TV show, "Game of Thrones."

Named Pheidole drogon, or dragon ants, the uniquely shaped bugs can only be found in New Guinea. The study behind the dragon ants comprises of two research papers written by Georg Fischer, Eli Sarnat and Evan Economo. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

In an interview via 89.3 KPCC, Eli Sarnat discussed a little about the species.

"This genus Pheidole is commonly called the bigheaded, because of that soldier ant [with] these massive heads that look almost impossible for the body to support, and they absolutely dominate the Earth," said Sarnat. "They're on every continent in almost any habitat. So, almost anywhere you go on Earth, you're going to find these Pheidole ants.

"The study was trying to get at this basic question, why do these ants have these spines? and I'll cut to the chase, we still don't know, and a lot of work needs to be done. But one thing I noticed was that some of these soldiers had spines where the minor workers, the ones with the little heads of the same species, only had these little nubs on their shoulders. And I thought to myself, 'Well, perhaps these spines on the shoulders of the soldier workers are actually providing more space for muscle attachment that can support these very large heads.'"

In regards to the "Game of Thrones" comparison, Sarnat mentioned that species' initial name was not from the show. At first, he considered naming the species, "branched spine."

"I ran it by my co-authors, and they said, 'No, that's too boring. These are remarkable ants, we need to come up with something better,'" said Sarnat. "One of the authors, Evan, said 'Oh, that black one has to be Drogon,' which is one of Daenerys Targaryen's dragons, and it's jet black just like this ant."

"And if you look at the ant, it's true that the spines on the back do look like wings, and then these shoulder spines do look like claws. So, I think dragon ants is actually a pretty fitting common name for them."

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