NYC Has Its Own Ant, the “ManhattAnt”
A new ant species joins a menagerie of other creatures cut off from their kind in isolated patches of urban green in NYC
Biologists stumbled upon a new species of ant in the Broadway medians at 63rd and 76th streets, the New York Post reports. The ant looks like it hails from Europe, but so far the scientists have not been able to match it with any of the approximately 13,000 species of known ant. “It’s new to North America, and we believe it’s new to the entire world,” biologist Rob Dunn, whose team discovered the insect, told the Post. The ant doesn’t have a scientific name yet, but it’s fondly nicknamed the “ManhattAnt.”
New York already has its own unique centipede, sweet bee and white-footed mouse with small ears. Cut off from their kind in isolated patches of urban green, these creatures slowly evolved into new versions of their original, stranded relatives, scientists postulate. Natural selection kicked in to select for hearty animals that can thrive in the urban jungle, and with enough time, those animals formed new species.
Dunn stumbled upon the ManhattAnt by accident during breaks from teaching classes at Columbia University. His lab is further investigating the ant now: so far they’ve found that the New York ants have a higher concentration of carbon in their bodies, likely indicative of a high corn-syrup diet.
More from Smithsonian.com:
The Hidden Life of Ants
Scott Solomon is “the Ant Hunter”