New ant species discovered in Al Ain, Oman mountains

DUBAI // A new ant species has been discovered in the mountains of Al Ain and Oman and an independent researcher in Al Ain has been part of this new sighting. An additional 30 species of insects and spiders considered firsts for the UAE have also been observed by the scienists, according to Wam, the […]

DUBAI // A new ant species has been discovered in the mountains of Al Ain and Oman and an independent researcher in Al Ain has been part of this new sighting.

An additional 30 species of insects and spiders considered firsts for the UAE have also been observed by the scienists, according to Wam, the state news agency.

The scientific name of the new ant species is ‘lepisiota omanensis.’

It has been described as remarkable due to “its exceptionally long, acute and strongly curved propodeal spines,” in a paper published by four researchers in the online Journal of Natural History.

The reference is to spines on the propodeum or the first segment of the abdomen in wasps, bees and ants.

The discovery was made by Huw Roberts, a researcher from the United Arab Emirates University as part of a team of four specialists led by Mostafa Sharaf from the College of Food and Agriculture Sciences in Saudi Arabia’s King Saud University.

“This ant species is the first from the site to be described as new to science,” said Mr Roberts about his detailed field studies in the Ain Al Waal area at the foot of Jebel Hafeet,

“This discovery shows that we still have much to learn about the wildlife and biodiversity of the UAE.”

He had recorded more than 400 species of insects in the area that were identified from specimens by specialists from across the world.

“There are a few more insects or spiders that may soon be confirmed as new as well. In addition to that over 30 species are confirmed as firsts for the UAE including one that had never before been observed in the Arab world,” Mr Roberts said.

The new discovery is based on five specimens of which one was collected in Oman in 2012, two from Ain Al Waal, Jebel Hafeet in 2014 and two from Oman’s Jebel Akhdar in March this year.

Some 26 species of ant from the group ‘lepisiota’ have now been identified in the Arabian peninsula out of a total of 81 known species.

Roberts’ study has been supported by the Mohammed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and will be completed later this year. His report will include a list of animal and plant species recorded at the site over a two year period between January 2014 and December 2015.

newsdesk@thenational.ae

Source: uae news

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