Two new species of a rare ant genus, Myrmecina, have been discovered in Mizoram by a team of scientists from a Bengaluru based research organisation named Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), a statement said. The discovery marks the first known presence of the genus in Mizoram and pushes up the number of Myrmecina species in India to seven.
Not much is known about the Myrmecina as they are cryptic ants and are rarely encountered in visual surveys. These ants live in small colonies of 30 to 150 individuals under stones or
decaying wood. Until now, only 51 species were known that are distributed over North America, Europe, northern Africa, India, Korea, Japan and Australia.
One of the two new species has been named Myrmecina bawai after professor Kamaljit S Bawa, a renowned evolutionary ecologist and conservation biologist and founding president of ATREE. It has a yellow-coloured
body with a dark tinge and was found in a shaded region at an elevation of 1,619 metres above sea level. The other has been named Myrmecina reticulata due to reticulate patterns on its abdomen. It was found in the Dampa tiger reserve in Mamit district at an elevation of 409 metres above sea level, a press release informed.
The team, comprising senior fellow Dr Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan, Aswaj Punnath and Anoop Karunakaran, conducted the study as part of a research on bio-resource and sustainable livelihoods in north- east India and collected samples from protected areas and reserve forests of Mizoram in April 2019.