Zasphinctus sarowiwai

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Zasphinctus sarowiwai
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Dorylinae
Genus: Zasphinctus
Species: Z. sarowiwai
Binomial name
Zasphinctus sarowiwai
Hita Garcia, 2017

Z sarowiwai casent0352813 p 1 high.jpg

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Specimen Labels

All samples are from rainforest habitats at elevations from 250 to 1510 m. Based on the available collection data, the species lives in soil and leaf litter.


Hita Garcia et al. (2017) - Zasphinctus sarowiwai differs in most diagnostic characters from the other two Afrotropical species. Most obviously, it can be separated from the other species by its much larger body size, the prominent median clypeal tooth, and the almost complete lack of surface sculpture. Despite its wide distribution range, there is very little observable variation. Most notably, the colour appears to be generally darker in the specimens from Uganda and Cameroon, which are uniformly very dark brown to black, while the specimens from West Africa tend to have a much lighter abdomen and often relatively bright legs. Furthermore, we observed some variation in the material from Uganda. In some specimens, the subpetiolar process of the petiolar sternum had a slightly weaker, but still distinct, fenestra compared to the material from other localities, and the ventral margin of the process had a posteroventral tooth-like projection. In addition, the anterodorsal margin of abdominal segment III was slightly more angulate in a few specimens while in several other specimens the metapleuron had some weak punctate sculpture. Overall, we consider this variation as geographic and very well within the intraspecific range of such a widespread species.

Keys including this Species


Hita Garcia et al. (2017) - The new species has a comparatively wide distribution ranging from Ivory Coast to Uganda, even though it is not known from all countries in-between. However, this is likely based on a sampling artefact considering the rarity of Zasphinctus in general and the poor sampling in most African countries. Therefore, we expect future collections in all countries in-between.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Afrotropical Region: Cameroun, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Uganda.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb




The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • sarowiwai. Zasphintus sarowiwai Hita Garcia, in Hita Garcia et al., 2017: 59, figs. 3, 4B, E, H, K, N, Q, 5B, E, H, K, N, Q, 6B, E, H, K, N, Q, 9, 10, 13B, 14, 15, Videos 2, 4, 5 (w.) CAMEROON.

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



Labrum: distal margin conspicuously cleft medially; median area from anterior cleft to proximal articulation very thin, dividing labrum into two lobes; each lobe bulging medially; lateroventrally with two conspicuous hook-like labral arms projecting parallel to remainder of labrum; row of ten to twelve setae (1 very long pair plus four/five shorter pairs) on basal third of exterior face; row of four to six setae (1 very long pair plus one/ two shorter pairs) on exterior face close to distal margin; labral tubercles absent.

Maxillae: maxillary palp three-segmented with second segment being greatly enlarged, third segment with very long seta, second with two long setae; deep and conspicuous diagonal, transverse stipital groove present dividing stipes into proximal external face and distal external face; articulation of labrum with maxillae of labro-stipital type via lateral extension/shoulder; proximal faces projecting beyond inner margin of stipites, thus almost completely concealing prementum; galea with well-developed galeal crown and maxillary brush, galeal comb apparently absent; lacinial comb not observable.

Labium: labial palp three-segmented with first segment being greatly enlarged, first and second segment with one long seta, third segment with three long setae; premental shield with several moderately long setae; shape of glossa not observable (structure collapsed); subglossal brush present and conspicuous with numerous long and thick setae; paraglossae absent.

Type Material

Holotype, pinned worker, Cameroon, Centre Province, Mbalmayo, 3.4597, 11.4714, ca. 600 m, rainforest, XI.1993 (N. Stork) (The Natural History Museum: CASENT0764654). Paratypes, three pinned workers with same data as holotype (BMNH: CASENT0764646; CASENT0764649; CASENT0764650).

Cybertypes, the cybertype dataset consists of all volumetric raw data in DICOM format, 3D PDFs and 3D rotation videos of scans of head, mesosoma, metasoma, and the full body of the physical holotype (BMNH: CASENT0764654) and/or one paratype (BMNH: CASENT0764650) in addition to montage photos illustrating head in full-face view, profile and dorsal views of the body of both specimens. The data is deposited at Dryad and can be freely accessed as virtual representation of both types (Hita Garcia et al. 2017c, In addition to the cybertype data at Dryad, we also provide a freely accessible 3D surface model of the holotype at Sketchfab (


The name of the new species is a patronym in honour of the famous Nigerian writer, environmentalist, and human rights activist Kenule Beeson “Ken” Saro-Wiwa. By naming a species from threatened rainforest habitats after him, we want to acknowledge his environmental legacy and draw attention to the often-problematic conservation situation in most Afrotropical rainforests.


  • Hita Garcia F, Fischer G, Liu C, Audisio TL, Economo EP (2017) Next-generation morphological character discovery and evaluation: an X-ray micro-CT enhanced revision of the ant genus Zasphinctus Wheeler (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Dorylinae) in the Afrotropics. ZooKeys 693: 33–93.