Flexible teeth on grooming spur of Pogonomyrmex ant

Images made through a microscope. All subject types.

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Flexible teeth on grooming spur of Pogonomyrmex ant

Post by rjlittlefield »

Referring to background info and questions asked in this posting...

The bristles are dry and flexible, as shown in the following animated gif: 8)


What you're seeing here is the direct physical manipulation of comb teeth on the pectinate front tibial spur of a Pogonomyrmex male flying ant, using a "minuten pin" mounted on the end of a matchstick, handheld.

Field width approximately 0.2 mm, shown here at roughly 300-400X.

(Caution: highly trained amateur at work. Do not try this for funded research!)


Technical: Canon SD700 IS in movie mode through eyepiece of Aus Jena compound scope with Edmund 20X NA 0.40 achromat objective. Frames selected using QuickTime Player 7.1, made into animated gif using Adobe Photoshop and ImageReady.

Mike B in OKlahoma
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Post by Mike B in OKlahoma »

I've seen these things on live ants....Sheesh, you must have manual dexterity out the yinyang!!!!!!! :shock: =D> :smt103 :smt107 :smt119
Mike Broderick
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James Sutherland
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Post by James Sutherland »

WOW! Master Mind at work with manipulative tools!! Very unique.
Yes, caution...I tried this on my nose hair, using a chopstick and only received an injury.
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Post by beetleman »

Simply incredible RiK. Thanks for the answer to my question. A wonderful GIF. :smt023
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Post by rjlittlefield »

Thanks, guys. :D

This one turned out to be a lot easier than I expected.

At first I was planning to just do the test live, look at the result, and report back in words.

But I got a good result in just a couple of minutes of playing around with various positions, and when I saw how obvious it looked through the 'scope, I thought "Heck, I can just record this as video."

So I set up a point-and-shoot camera to look through the eyepiece, held there by an Orion SteadyPix, pressed the record button, and went through the exercise a few more times. Just under two minutes later, I had an avi file containing several good snippets of action, and then it was just a matter of plucking out a few representative frames and making an animation of them.

In addition to being larger than life, what you see above is also about 10X slower than life. It's about 1/3 second of actual activity, represented by 7 frames at 0.5 second each.

Here's the same sequence at closer to live speed (0.03 second per frame).

Mike, as to my apparently superhuman steadiness, well, that's some combination of careful bracing, years of practice, lucky genes, and proper choice of dietary liquids, plus a hefty boost from post-production special effects. :roll:

Bear in mind that this repeating loop looks a good deal more controlled than the original movements were. At 200X through the eyepiece, the end of that handheld pin does wander around quite a bit.

It's also true, though, that magnification does wonders. At least for me, my hands get a lot steadier (in absolute terms!) when I'm working under a scope than when I'm using just eyes. It's no problem at all making controlled movements at 20X that I wouldn't stand a chance at 1X. And it seems like the more of it I do (over a period of weeks), the steadier I get. I've actually come to think of it as some sort of physical therapy for minor tremor. How many other people work the same way, I have no idea. :?


Charles Krebs
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Post by Charles Krebs »

Rik... great shots of a fascinating structure. And the images posted over in the "macro" section quite excellent!

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