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Ants have colonised almost every landmass on Earth.The only places lacking indigenous ants are Antarctica and a few remote or inhospitable islands.By the Oligocene and Miocene, ants had come to represent 20–40% of all insects found in major fossil deposits.Of the species that lived in the Eocene epoch, around one in 10 genera survive to the present.Online databases of ant species, including Ant Base and the Hymenoptera Name Server, help to keep track of the known and newly described species.Ants are distinct in their morphology from other insects in having elbowed antennae, metapleural glands, and a strong constriction of their second abdominal segment into a node-like petiole.
They are easily identified by their elbowed antennae and the distinctive node-like structure that forms their slender waists.
Termites are eusocial, but differ greatly in the genetics of reproduction.
The similarity of their social structure to that of ants is attributed to convergent evolution.
The head, mesosoma, and metasoma are the three distinct body segments.
The petiole forms a narrow waist between their mesosoma (thorax plus the first abdominal segment, which is fused to it) and gaster (abdomen less the abdominal segments in the petiole).
Genera surviving today comprise 56% of the genera in Baltic amber fossils (early Oligocene), and 92% of the genera in Dominican amber fossils (apparently early Miocene).