The First Mesozoic Ants

  title={The First Mesozoic Ants},
  author={Edward O. Wilson and Frank M. Carpenter and William L. Brown},
  pages={1038 - 1040}
Two worker ants preserved in amber of Upper Cretaceous age have been found in New Jersey. They are the first undisputed remains of social insects of Mesozoic age, extending the existence of social life in insects back to approximately 100 million years. They are also the earliest known fossils that can be assigned with certainty to aculeate Hymenoptera. The species, Sphecomyrma freyi, is considered to represent a new subfamily (Sphecomyrminae), more primitive than any previously known ant group… 

A new species of the Cretaceous ant Zigrasimecia based on the worker caste reveals placement of the genus in the Sphecomyrminae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

The new specimens allow the confident assignment of Zigrasimecia BARDEN & GRIMALDI, 2013, a genus recently described based upon a gyne from the same amber deposit, to the extinct subfamily Sphecomyrminae, and more specifically to the tribe Sp hecomyrmini.

A formicine in New Jersey cretaceous amber (Hymenoptera: formicidae) and early evolution of the ants.

  • D. GrimaldiD. Agosti
  • Biology, Geography
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 2000
The apex of the gaster has an acidopore and, thus, allows definitive assignment of the fossil to the large extant subfamily Formicinae, members of which use a defensive spray of formic acid.

New data on the wing morphology of the cretaceous sphecomyrminae ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Previously unknown features of the wings of the Cretaceous Sphecomyrminae (Formicoidea) are described and principles for describing wing venation of ants and its variation are proposed.

The discovery of Late Cretaceous formicoids in amber from New Jersey, the United States (Wilson

Previously unknown features of the wings of the Cretaceous Sphecomyrminae (Formicoidea) are described. The possibility of venation character distortion in inclusions is shown experimentally and

Ants From the Cretaceous and Eocene Amber of North America

The discovery of Sphecomyrmafreyi in amber from New Jersey disclosed the existence of an extinct subfamily of ants (Sphecomyrminae) intermediate in some traits between modern ants and nonsocial wasps

A new genus of hell ants from the Cretaceous (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Haidomyrmecini) with a novel head structure

An unusual Cretaceous trap jaw ant is described from Burmese amber dated to the Late Cret Jurassic, distinguished by an unusual suite of morphological characters indicating specialized predatory behaviour and an adaptive strategy no longer found among modern ant lineages.

Notes on Necrophoric Behavior in the Archaic Ant Myrmecia vindex (Formicidae: Myrmeciinae)

Ants of the Australian and New Caledonian genus Myrmecia apparently include the most archaic living Formicidae, and species of MyRMecia may well illustrate the earliest patterns of Formicid social organization, and embody themost archaic patterns offormicidsocial behavior, that are likely to be able to study in detail in the laboratory or the field.

The earliest known ants: an analysis of the Cretaceous species and an inference concerning their social organization

The known Cretaceous formicoids are better interpreted from morphological evidence as forming a single subfamily, the Sphecomyrminae, and even a single genus, SpheComyrma, rather than multiple families and genera, and share some key traits with nonsocial aculeate wasps.


We consider morphological diversity of ants from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. An eco-ethological hypothesis concerning its origin and features of Mesozoic and Cenozoic ant communities is proposed.



We gratefully acknowledge the splendid cooperation of Mr. and Mrs. Frey, as well as the intermediary aid of Dr

    who gave us the benefit of extensive comparisons of Sphecomyrma characters with those of various wasp genera

    • In classifying tiphiids,
    • 1947

    The Baltic Amber ants were monographed

    • M. Carpenter [Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 70,
    • 1930

    For a comparison with wings of ants and Plumariidae, see

    • Trans. Amer. Entomol. Soc
    • 1950

    For a comparison with wings of ants and Plumariidae

    • Nauk 112,
    • 1957

    Evans, who gave us the benefit of extensive comparisons of Sphecomyrma characters with those of various wasp genera