Y: You’re driving pretty fast, Don. Maybe you should slow down a little.
D: Fast? I’m going 70 miles per hour. That’s nothing.
Y: That’s going as fast as a cheetah can run—I wouldn’t call driving as fast as the fastest animal “nothing.”
D: But a cheetah isn’t the fastest animal in the world, even though a lot of people think it is. The animal that can move the fastest is actually a lot smaller: the Dracula ant.
Y: An ant can run as fast as a cheetah? Something isn’t adding up here.
D: Move, not run—I’m talking about animal movement in general. Dracula ants can snap their mandibles at speeds up to 200 miles per hour—295 feet per second, in other words. That makes it the fastest animal movement on record. They press their mandibles over the other, something like a person snapping their fingers. Scientists say that the ants probably use this motion to kill or stun prey by flinging it away or slamming it against a tunnel wall, for example. Then they drag it back to their nests to feed it to the ant larvae.
Y: Just to the larvae? Why don’t they eat it themselves?
D: Because adult Dracula ants can’t process solid food. They get their nutrition by sucking the blood of their larvae. It sounds gruesome, but it doesn’t kill them.
Y: So that’s why they’re called Dracula ants. I was going to suggest a name change, since vampires don’t exactly make me think of lightning-fast speeds… but no, “Dracula ant” sounds just fine.