The residents of Manhattan are arguably a breed all their own, and they don’t mind letting you know.
There’s a kernel of truth to this claim, but you’ll have to look for it. Specifically, somewhere between 63rd and 76th streets. That’s where biologists have discovered an entirely new species of ant.
“It’s new to North America, and we believe it’s new to the entire world,” biologist Rob Dunn, a biology professor at North Carolina State University whose team discovered the insect, told the Post.
The Big Apple insects have been tentatively named “ManhattAnts” until a more scientific nomenclature can be arranged,
“It’s a relative of the cornfield ant, and it looks like it’s from Europe, but we can’t match it up with any of the European species,” Dunn said.
Isolated from its fellow Formicidae family members by city infrastructure, the ManhattAnts are able to subsist on a diet higher in corn syrup than other species. Their bodies have a higher carbon content than other ants, perhaps suiting them better to the dry and warm urban environment.
Dunn first found the reddish-brown ants between classes at Columbia University. He discovered them “by accident,” though his team is now researching them with vigor, considering their importance.
The ManhattAnt isn’t the only species found specifically in New York City. As the New York Times reports, the voracious centipede, Nannarrup hoffmani, makes its home in Central Park, scuttling about the forest floor on 41 pairs of legs. The city’s small white-footed mice have developed large livers dappled with scar tissue, a result of living off fatty fast food waste, and adapting to the other-wise food scarce concrete jungle.
The Big Apple even boasts its own bee; a sweat bee, no larger than a sesame seed, the Wall Street Journal reports, found only in Brooklyn.
“They use humans as a salt lick,” entomologist John Ascher, who first discovered the species in 2010 in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park near his home, told WSJ. “They land on your arm and lap up the sweat.”
Learn more about the unique ants of New York City in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.