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Exploding Ants Of Borneo Protect Their Colony: Other Animals With Strange Defense Mechanisms

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A rare species of ants found in Borneo explodes its abdomen out when threatened and then secretes a deadly yellow goo to protect their colonies.

Alice Laciny, an entomologist at the Natural History Museum Vienna in Austria, published a description of the ants in the journal Zookeys. The exploding ants of Borneo, with scientific name Colobopsis explodens, cannot sting, as they lack mandibles generally present in other ant species.

When faced with attackers, the ants flex their abdomen so hard that it would burst, producing a sticky bright yellow toxin. Interestingly, the yellow goo is surprisingly unpleasant and resembles the smell of curry.

In C. explodens, the smaller ants do the defense while the large ones, called majors, stay inside the colony. Laciny said she intends to further study its yellow goo and how ants coordinate group explosions.

Strange Defense Mechanisms

Other animals also exhibit strange defense mechanisms to ward off enemies and ensure their survival.

In a 2011 study published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, author Benjamin Hart said that these coping mechanisms change the animals' social, feeding, and reproductive behaviors.

Similar to Borneo ants, a species of termites found in French Guiana go on suicide missions to protect their colony. The toxins produced in the abdomen are deadly when mixed with the saliva. When faced with enemies, the toxins explode, also killing the termites in the process.

Aside from camouflage and its sharp spikes, the Texas horned lizard shoots a stream of blood from its eyes to ward off predators. This reptile can shoot blood as far as 5 feet, which is mixed with a foul-tasting chemical. About one-third of the lizard's blood supply is used as a weapon.

The hagfish, an eel-shaped marine species, also has a peculiar way of evading enemies. It emits slime from its pores, which transforms into a gelatinous material when provoked or stressed.

A study published October 2011 in the journal Scientific Reports explored how hagfishes use its slime as a defense mechanism. It was hypothesized that the slime could potentially kill gill-breathing predators.

"The potential effectiveness of this strategy is demonstrated by the fact that hagfishes are known to die if left in their own slime," reported lead author Vincent Zintzen.

Sea cucumbers' ability to regenerate lost body parts becomes useful when attacked as they expel internal organs through their anus. These echinoderms excrete a sticky substance that sometimes contains toxins to ward off predators.

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