Left: Trap-jaw ants, Odontomachus bauri, fire their mandibles with such acceleration that when the mandibles strike a hard surface, the forces generated are strong enough to propel the ants' bodies through the air. In the "escape jump," shown here, the ant's trajectory is directed upward. In a "bouncer defense jump" (bottom), by comparison, the ant clears a greater horizontal distance. The video is being shown 100 times slower than real time. (Videos courtesy of Sheila Patek and collaborators, UC Berkeley)
Above: The mandibles of the trap-jaw ant, filmed at 50,000 frames per second. The video is being shown 1,667 times slower than real time. A new study has shown that the mandibles of O. bauri can close at speeds of 35 to 64 meters per second, or 78 to 145 miles per hour – an action researchers say is the fastest self-powered predatory strike in the animal kingdom. The average duration of a strike is a mere 0.13 milliseconds.