Special Reports

Smithsonian Honors Radiohead as Farming Ant Insects [Video]


Newly discovered ant has been named after legendary rock band Radiohead. As long as the South American ant species continue to live, entomologists will know the name of this musical group. The scientific name of the ant is now "Sericomyrmex radioheadi," which was discovered during a study on the sericomyrmex genus of South and Central America.

Radiohead's new description is published in "Zookeys," IFL Science reported. Smithsonian graduate student Ana Ješovnik said they named the ant after Radiohead to honor the band. Another more important reason is that they want to acknowledge the band's effort to raise awareness on climate-change and other conservation efforts.

The Radiohead ant inhabits the trees located in the lush Venezuelan Amazon. These ants farm fungi as their major food. Fungal agriculture can be traced back 30 million years ago, while the Sericomyrmex genus has only been around for 4 million years. This genus evolved rapidly, making it hard for scientists to tell each species apart.

More research is needed to categorize the different species of the Serucimyrmex genus, which are all considered part of the radioheadi so far. The researchers hope they will have enough time and resources for further study to identify new species and name each for every member of Radiohead.

Female Sericomyrmex radioheadi have crystal-like layer with white color that are not present in any other species of ant in the world. The use of this feature hasn't been discovered yet, but it is believed to protect it from parasites.

Now the question is what has the band done for ants that they are named after the Sericomyrmex radioheadi? In their song "Fitter Happier," which is the thought provoking centerpiece of "OK Computer," the band paid tribute to ants, SPIN reported. The lyrics in that track included no killing moths and not putting ants in boiling water.

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