Trap-jaws are highly modified, spring-loaded mandibles which snap shut with tremendous speed and power. They are primarily used for prey capture but in some species have a defensive defensive role. The jaws are commonly held in an open position and are released when trigger hairs, which extend forward from the anterior margin of the head capsule, encounter a prey item.
Trap-jaws have evolved independently several times in ants and are found in the subfamilies and genera:
- Formicinae: Myrmoteras
- Myrmicinae: Acanthognathus, Daceton, Epopostruma, Microdaceton, Orectognathus, Strumigenys (many species)
- Ponerinae: Anochetus, Odontomachus
- Larabee, F.J., Gronenberg, W., Suarez, A.V., 2017. Performance, morphology and control of power-amplified mandibles in the trap-jaw ant Myrmoteras (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of Experimental Biology 220, 3062–3071 (DOI 10.1242/jeb.156513).
- Larabee, F.J., Smith, A.A., Suarez, A.V., 2018. Snap-jaw morphology is specialized for high-speed power amplification in the Dracula ant, Mystrium camillae. Royal Society Open Science 5, 181447 (DOI 10.1098/rsos.181447).
- Larabee, F.J., Suarez, A.V., 2014. The evolution and functional morphology of trap-jaw ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News 20, 25–36.
- Liu, C., Sarnat, E.M., Friedman, N.R., Hita Garcia, F., Darwell, C., Booher, D., Kubota, Y., Mikheyev, A.S., Economo, E.P. 2020. Colonize, radiate, decline: Unraveling the dynamics of island community assembly with Fijian trap‐jaw ants. Evolution 74, 1082–1097 (doi:10.1111/EVO.13983).