When the giant ants went marching

A new study of an ancient fossil suggests that 50 million years ago, supersized ants went on a cross-continental trek

By Stephen Ornes, 21:16 PM May 23, 2011

A fossil of a giant ant that crawled 49.5 million years ago reveals that the bug was as big as a hummingbird’s body.

 

Today’s tiny ants are puny in comparison to some species that roamed North America nearly 50 million years ago. Scientists recently identified the fossilized remains of a giant ant queen two inches long. That’s as long as a hummingbird without its beak. If you saw one of these oversized insects approaching your picnic, you’d pack up and leave in a hurry. (Though, of course, there weren’t picnics back then; people hadn’t yet evolved.) But those giants are now extinct.

The new fossil is ...

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