Motor Mouth

A few posts back we explored the Mantis Shrimp. These crustaceans possess an “arm” that can move faster than the eye can see. But the Mantis Shrimp has now been moved to second place in the category of creatures with the fastest appendages. He was beaten by an ant! The shrimp must be humiliated… well... really they both are in a class all their own, and have nothing to be embarrassed about.

The Trap-jaw Ant has now become the reigning champion of speed. The part of the ant’s body that moves 2,300 times faster than the blink of a human eye is the ant’s jaws. In this picture the ant's jaws have been retracted into the locked position by the largest muscles in the ants body.

The jaws are held in position by a specially designed latch. The latch can be triggered by antennae strategically placed in front of the locked jaws. When the ant, or an intruder, triggers the jaws, a small muscle releases the latch, and the jaws can close at 145 miles per hour! The force generated is 300 times the body weight of the ant, and 100,000 times the force of gravity. The duration of the strike averages 0.13 milliseconds! The ant can decapitate most prey, or potential predators, before they can respond with any defense. But this is not the only use for these jaws.

With the energy generated by this system the ant can launch itself high into the air by striking its mandibles against a solid object or the ground. They can escape a threat by this method, or jump onto an unsuspecting person to give them a painful sting. God is amazing!

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