Cephalotes depressus

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Cephalotes depressus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Cephalotes
Species group: depressus
Species: C. depressus
Binomial name
Cephalotes depressus
(Klug, 1824)

Cephalotes depressus casent0173671 profile 1.jpg

Cephalotes depressus casent0173671 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


Specimens have been collected in pasture and scrub vegetation. Little else is known about the biology of Cephalotes depressus.


A member of the depressus clade differing from its sister species Cephalotes eduarduli, in the worker, soldier and gyne by the absence of erect, truncate hairs on the mesosoma, on the pedicel and on the first gastral tergite, in the soldier and in the gyne by the head dorsum opaque. (de Andrade and Baroni Urbani 1999)

Keys including this Species


Venezuela, Guyana, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay.

Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 1.082° to -29.817°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil (type locality), Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Venezuela.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.

Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.


Explore-icon.png Explore Overview of Cephalotes biology 
The biology of many Cephalotes species is not known. Ants in this genus are common in the New World tropics and subtropics and are especially abundant and diverse in the canopies of Neotropical forests. The majority of species are arboreal. Species that live in other strata inhabit smaller trees, bushes or grass stems. These noon-arboreal species, due to their accessibility, are among the better studied members of the genus. There are also species that can be found in downed wood but it is likely the wood housed the colony before it fell to the ground. Soil nests are not known for any species nor do most species appear to extensively excavate plant tissue. They nest instead in preformed cavities. Overall, ants in the genus utilize a wide range of plants. Some species are predictable in their plant use but none appear to have evolved specialized mutualisms with particular plant species.

Worker castes typically include two forms, a worker and soldier, but there are a few species that are monomorphic. The larger soldier caste typically has an enlarged head disk. In some species the head of the soldier is very different from the worker while in others these differences are less pronounced. Queens and soldiers tend to share similar head morphology. Soldiers use their heads to plug the nest entrance. This can be very effective in excluding potential intruders. Other morphological differences between the worker castes are present but these differences have not been studied as well as head moprhology.

The behavioral repertoire of Cephalotes varians has been examined in great detail (ethograms from Wilson 1976, Cole 1980 and Cole 1983). Soldiers do little else besides defend the nest. This specialized soldier behavior is presumed to be the norm for most species. An especially interesting behavior occurs when workers are dislodged from trees: they "fly" towards the tree, often grabbing the trunk well above the ground (video).

Mature nest size varies, by species, from less than a hundred to many thousands of workers. Available evidence suggests most species are monogynous. Queens may mate with multiple males.

The proventriculus of the Cephalotes is peculiar relative to other ants. The morphology of the structure suggests it serves as a powerful pump and filter. This does not appear to lead these ants to have a highly specialized diet as most species appear to be general scavengers. Foragers have been observed feeding on carrion, bird feces, extrafloral nectaries and even tending membracids. Pollen feeding has been observed in some species, and this is somewhat specialized for ants, but it is not evident that any species restricts its diet to this resource in any significant way. Evidence for pollen feeding in Cephalotes has accumulated, in part, via finding digested pollen grains seen in infrabucal pellets. It has been suggested that the morphology of the proventriculus is a specialization for processing pollen.

More research examining all aspects of the biology of Cephalotes is needed. Our present understanding of these ants is largely based on species that live in locations other than the forest canopy, which is where Cephalotes are most common and diverse. ‎




Images from AntWeb

Cephalotes depressus casent0173672 head 1.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173672 profile 1.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173672 dorsal 1.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173672 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0173672. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by ALWC, Alex L. Wild Collection.


Images from AntWeb

Cephalotes depressus casent0173674 head 1.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173674 profile 1.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173674 profile 2.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173674 profile 3.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173674 dorsal 1.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173674 label 1.jpg
Queen (alate/dealate). Specimen code casent0173674. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by ALWC, Alex L. Wild Collection.


Images from AntWeb

Cephalotes depressus casent0173673 head 1.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173673 profile 1.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173673 profile 2.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173673 dorsal 1.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173673 label 1.jpg
Male (alate). Specimen code casent0173673. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by ALWC, Alex L. Wild Collection.
Cephalotes depressus casent0173675 head 1.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173675 head 2.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173675 profile 2.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173675 profile 3.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173675 profile 4.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173675 dorsal 1.jpgCephalotes depressus casent0173675 label 1.jpg
Male (alate). Specimen code casent0173675. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by ALWC, Alex L. Wild Collection.


The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • depressus. Cryptocerus depressus Klug, 1824: 204 (w.) BRAZIL (Rio de Janeiro).
    • Type-material: syntype workers (number not stated).
    • Type-locality: Brazil: Rio de Janeiro (de Olfers & Sello).
    • Type-depository: MNHU.
    • Emery, 1906c: 170 (s.q.m.); Forel, 1906d: 235 (q.m.); De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 355 (m.).
    • Combination in Paracryptocerus: Kempf, 1951: 218;
    • combination in Paracryptocerus (Paracryptocerus): Kempf, 1958a: 15;
    • combination in Zacryptocerus: Brandão, 1991: 385;
    • combination in Cephalotes: Baroni Urbani, 1998: 326; De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 352.
    • Junior synonym of pavonii: Roger, 1861b: 173; Mayr, 1863: 406; Roger, 1863b: 38; Dalla Torre, 1893: 144; Forel, 1895b: 134.
    • Status as species: Guérin-Méneville, 1844a: 426; Smith, F. 1853: 219; Smith, F. 1858b: 192; Smith, F. 1862d: 410; Emery, 1894e: 4; Emery, 1906c: 170; Forel, 1906d: 235; Forel, 1911c: 297; Forel, 1912b: 81; Forel, 1912e: 199 (redescription); Bruch, 1914: 218; Mann, 1916: 450; Santschi, 1916e: 383; Luederwaldt, 1918: 40; Emery, 1924d: 309; Borgmeier, 1927c: 118; Kempf, 1951: 218 (redescription); Kempf, 1958a: 15; Kempf, 1972a: 177; Brandão, 1991: 385; Bolton, 1995b: 425; De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 352 (redescription); Wild, 2007b: 31; Bezděčková, et al. 2015: 116; Guerrero, Fernández, et al. 2018: 240; Sandoval-Gómez & Sánchez-Restrepo, 2019: 911.
    • Senior synonym of sorocabensis: Kempf, 1951: 218; Kempf, 1972a: 177; Brandão, 1991: 385; Bolton, 1995b: 425; De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 352.
    • Distribution: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela.
  • sorocabensis. Cryptocerus depressus var. sorocabensis Forel, 1912e: 200 (s.) BRAZIL (São Paulo).
    • Type-material: 2 syntype soldiers, 7 syntype workers.
    • Type-locality: Brazil: São Paulo, Sorocaba (Göldi).
    • [Note: Sorocaba is in São Paulo, not Rio de Janeiro as quoted in the original description.]
    • Type-depository: MHNG.
    • Subspecies of depressus: Luederwaldt, 1918: 41; Emery, 1924d: 309; Borgmeier, 1927c: 118.
    • Junior synonym of depressus: Kempf, 1951: 218; Kempf, 1972a: 177; Brandão, 1991: 385; Bolton, 1995b: 427; De Andrade & Baroni Urbani, 1999: 352.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.



Kempf (1951) - Length 4.5-6 mm. Black; the following ferruginous to testaceous: frontal carinae, occipital lobes, tips of lateral spines on thorax and peduncle, and anterolateral border of gaster. Reddish-brown to fuscous-brown: Mandibles, antennae, tibiae, and tarsi.

Head subquadrate, slightly broader than long. Frontal carinae distinctly crenulate and beset with small projecting setulae on the anterior half; very little diverging caudad. Occipital lobes bidenticulate, the inner tooth subacute, the outer tooth blunt. Pronotal lamellae short, not longer than broad, the second tooth of the pronotum, behind the lamella small, smaller than the lateral mesonotal tooth. First lateral epinotal spine not recurved, the second spine very short, in the form of a triangular tooth, removed from the posterior corner of the declivous face. Petiole with a lateral slender spine, arising from the side, its base removed backward from the often subangulate anterior corner of the segment. Postpetiole with an anterior lateral stout spine, recurved at apex. Gaster subcordiform, longer than wide, longer than the interocular width. The anterolateral border of the first tergite distinctly but narrowly crested.

de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 4.20-5.80; HL 0.92-1.32; HW 1.16-1.72; EL 0.32-0.44; PW 1.00-1.68; PeW 0.64-0.98; PpW 0.55-0.76; HBaL 0.32-0.48; HBaW 0.10-0.19; CI 126.1-130.3; PI 103.1-116.0; PPeI 156.2-171.4; PPpI 181.8-221.0; HBal 31.2-39.6.


Kempf (1951) - 7 mm. Black; the following lighter, more or less ferrugenous: anterior portion of frontal carinae, tips of femora, tibiae and tarsi, tips of lateral pronotal and epinotal lobes, peduncular spines.

Head subquadrate, the upper surface of head rather convex. Frontal carinae sharply crenulated, with small setulae projecting from the notches. Vertex with a vestigial transverse median carinule, the small teeth more or less vestigial; occiput subtruncate. Upper surface of head finely punctate and subfulgid. Shoulders distinct, pronotum greatly expanded laterad, the posterior portion, of the sides strongly converging and somewhat emarginate. Transverse pronotal crest vestigial mesad. Mesonotum with a rounded lateral lobe. Basal face of epinotum very short mesad, with a postero-lateral bituberculate on each side, the base of which forms a faint carinule separating the declivous face from the basal face, fading out towards the middle. Petiole and postpetiole as in worker, the petiole still narrower, the lateral spines shorter. The postpetiole with stouter, more recurved lateral spines.

de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 6.44-7.08; HL 1 .60-1 .76; HW 2.00-2.22; EL 0.44; PW 1.96-2.12; PeW 0.96-1.08; PpW 0.84-0.94; HBaL 0.52-0.56; HBaW 0.20; CI 124.4-126.1; PI 102.0-104.7; PPeI 196.30-204.1; PPpI 225.5-238.1; HBaI 35.7-38.5.


Kempf (1951) - Length 10 mm. In general similar to that of cristatus. Frontal carinae regularly and very sharply crenulate. Vertex without a distinct median bicarinate crest. Occipital angle simple, not bidenticulate. Transverse pronotal crest not serrated, with a more or less continuous edge. Scapular spine short, directed sideward, not foreward. Lower mesopleura without a conspicuously projecting tooth, usually more or less obsolete. Epinotal teeth shorter. Petiole about as long as wide, sides sub-parallel, constricted behind, the sides forming a small, rectangular denticle in front of the constriction. Postpetiole somewhat broader than long, much narrower than in cristatus. Wings infuscated, the veins dark brunneous. Fore wing with a closed and appendiculate marginal cell, the transverse cubital vein present.

de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 9.52-10.16 HL 1.80-1.84; HW 2.04-2.08; EL 0.48; PW 1.92-2.08; PeW 0.80-0.92; PpW 1.00-1.06; HBaL 0.68-0.70; HBaW 0.24-0.25; CI 113.0-113.3; PI 100.0-106.2 PPeI 226.1-240.0; PPpI 1.92.0-196.2; HBaI 35.3-35.7.


de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999) - Head (eyes included, mandibles excluded) 1/3 broader than long; vertexal angles obtuse and carinate. Ocelli protuberant on the convex vertex. Eyes broadly convex and placed in the middle of the sides of the head. Frontal carinae raised, diverging backwards and not reaching the posterior border of the eyes. Frons flat. Clypeus convex dorsally. Mandibles slender, laterally carinate and with three distinct apical teeth. Scapes thick, twice longer than the first funicular joint; remaining funicular joints thickening from the base to the apex.

Mesosoma. Pronotum in dorsal view broadening backwards; its sides with a superficial lateral carina in some specimens only. Mesonotum convex; median Mayrian carina and parapsidal furrows weakly impressed. Scutellum convex, its sides converging posteriorly. Propodeum with slightly differentiate basal and declivous faces; basal face convex, its sides converging posteriorly.

Petiole narrower than postpetiole with a deeply concave anterior border. Sides of the petiolar node convex and posteriorly converging. Postpetiole convex in dorsal view; its sides anteriorly with an obtuse, short denticle or gently convex.

Gaster as broad as or broader than the mesosoma.

Wings. Fore wings with R+Sc superficially connected with a marked pterostigma. 2r marked, Rsf5 connected with R1. Distal parts of A, Cu-A1 and Mf4 vestigial. Hind wings with R, M+ CuA, M and 1A marked; CuA, M and distal part of 1A vestigial.

Sculpture. Body covered by deep reticulation less impressed on the gaster and on the legs. Head dorsum with small, superficial foveae, denser on the posterior fourth and on the frons. Periocular area with transversal rugosities. Ventral part of the head and mesosoma with large, deep, irregular foveae. Pleurae with longitudinal, thin rugosities; mesopleurae with very superficial, small foveae. Pedicel with few rugosities.

Pilosity. Head and mesosoma covered by long, dense, sub erect, hairs, sparser and subdecumbent on pedicel, on the gaster and on the legs. Funiculi densely covered by thin, short, decumbent hairs, similar but thinner, sparser and slightly longer hairs on the legs and on the gaster.

Colour. Head, mesosoma and pedicel black; proximal half of the legs and gaster light brown to black. Distal half of the legs and wing veins yellowish brown. Wings slightly infuscated and transparent.

Measurements (in mm) and indices: TL 5.40-6.38; HL 0.80-0.90; HW 1.12-1.24; EL 0.39-0.46; PW 0.96-1.12; PeW 0.48-0.64; PpW 0.56-0.70; HBaL 0.50-0.60; HBaW 0.11-0.13; CI 135.6-140.0; PI 108.9-116.7 PPeI 192.3-200.0; PPpI 166.7-171.4; HBaI 20.3-23.5.

Type Material

de Andrade and Baroni Urbani (1999):

Worker. Type locality: Guanabara, Rio de Janeiro. Type material: not available for the present study.

Cryptocerus depressus var. sorocabensis. Soldier. Type locality: Sorocaba (Sao Paulo). Type material 7 workers and 2 small soldiers labelled: "Sorocaba, Provo St. Paolo, Goldi, C. depressus v. sorocabensis For., type", examined.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

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