Temporal range: Burdigalian, Early Miocene Dominican amber, Dominican Republic
Fiorentino, Lattke, Troya, Sosiak, Dong & Barden, 2023
Neoponera vejestoria shows the typical diagnostic characters present in the genus, including well-developed, convex eyes placed at about head mid-length; well developed aroliae; and slit-shaped propodeal spiracle (most species in the genus). Within Neoponera, this fossil mostly resembles species in the foetida and aenescens species groups. However, it is readily assignable to the foetida group (see more insights further below) since it shows (1) well-developed malar carinae, which are absent in the aenescens species group, and (2) eyes placed at about head mid-length, whereas in the aenescens group these are placed slightly anterad.
Neoponera vejestoria may only be confused with three extant species in the genus, Neoponera dismarginata, Neoponera carbonaria, and Neoponera ecu39704 (undescribed, see images of MEPNINV39794 on AntWeb.org). It can be separated from these taxa by the following: N. vejestoria shows evident striae on the body dorsum, particularly on the mesonotum and on abdominal segments III and IV (no striae on N. dismarginata, showing instead microfoveae; in N. carbonaria and N. ecu39794, the cuticle is almost devoid of sculpture dorsally, instead having few, usually feebly impressed striae on the meso- and metapleuron). Neoponera vejestoria shows blunt humeral carinae (well developed and sharp in N. dismarginata; blunt to absent in N. ecu39794, and N. carbonaria). Finally, N. vejestoria has well-developed, apparently sharp, posterolateral nodal carinae on the petiole (absent in N. dismarginata; sometimes present in N. carbonaria, though always blunt; and always present but blunt in N. ecu39794). Within the foetida group, N. vejestoria is the only taxon showing a bluish-greenish iridescent cuticle. Among extant Neoponera, this trait has only been seen in some species of the aenescens group, for example, in N. carbonaria.
This taxon was described from Dominican amber, Dominican Republic (Burdigalian, Early Miocene).
The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.
- †vejestoria. †Neoponera vejestoria Fiorentino, Lattke, Troya, Sosiak, Dong & Barden, 2023: 2, figs. 1-2 (w.) DOMINICAN AMBER (Dominican Republic, Miocene).
- Holotype. MNHNSD FOS 18.01 worker, deposited in the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural “Prof. Eugenio de Jesús Marcano,” Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (Figs. 1 and 2, Additional file 1: Figs. S1 and S3). Preserved within a 60 mm by 40 mm section of transparent, yellow amber with abundant bubbles. Syninclusions include a long-jawed spider (Tetragnathidae), a staphylinid beetle (Paederinae), and a fungus gnat (Mycetophilidae).