New drywood termite with snapping mandibles

Termites have developed a wide array of defensive mechanisms.

One of them is the mandibulate soldier caste that crushes or pierces their enemies. However, in several lineages of Termitinae, soldiers have long and slender mandibles that cannot bite but, instead, snap and deliver powerful strikes to their opponents. Here, we use morphological and molecular evidences to describe new termite from Cameroon, Roisinitermes ebogoensis (Kalotermitidae), named after a real autority in termitology, Prof. Yves Roisin and the village Ebogo II, where both samples originated from. Soldiers of R. ebogoensis are unique among all other kalotermitid soldiers in that they possess snapping mandibles. The imago of R. ebogoensis is also easily distinguished from all other Kalotermitidae by the lack of ocelli. Our study reveals a new case of parallel evolution of snapping mandibles in termites, a complex apparatus responsible of one of the fastest biological acceleration rates measured to date.

Scheffrahn R.H., Bourguignon T., Akama P.D., Sillam-Dusses D. & Šobotník J. 2018: Roisinitermes ebogoensis gen. & sp. n., an outstanding drywood termite with snapping soldiers from Cameroon (Isoptera, Kalotermitidae). Zookeys 787: 91-105.

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