Ant Nest Attached to Fossil Mammal Butt

Dedicated readers of our myrmeco-media outlet will remember our first editorial (that went mildly viral) on efforts by the vertebrate media to bury the lede (ants) with a dinosaur tail. We’re happy to report, via Fossil Correspondant Dr. Regan Dunn, that ants are actively asserting their dominance over the paleo realm.

Correpondant Dunn, over email, explained what we’re seeing here:

I wondered what that hard thing was on this large chunk of fossil mammal bone, so I poked it with my pick, then all these guys came out, moving the queen and larvae. I felt bad, I had no idea this was an ant nest…

They made a nest shaped like a vase out of sediment and fastened it to a chunk of astrapothere butt.

The sediment is really ashy, it’s funny because the Eocene bugs did the same thing with all that ash when it was fresh out of the volcano; no ant nests have been described. Dung beetles and bees…

Even we must admit that astrapotheres looked cool:

An extinct mammal. Photo: Dmitry Bogdanov

But in the end, ants get the last laugh – and it’s very clear which clade is the butt of the joke.