This was such an exciting find, a lifer! These are Turtle Ants, ants which are not often seen because they are usually high up in trees. They use beetle tunnels as their burrows and do not excavate tunnels of their own. These are all workers, and were coming down a tree close to sunset within the Mayan Ruins of Hochob. They then crossed a large part of the plaza and went into the bushes. They must have been out on a foraging mission. They were about 5 mm long, stout and looked like they were made of pewter. What appears to be a heart-shaped abdomen is actually an enlarged first segment. In some of the pictures, you can see the remaining small segments tucked under that large segment. The heads are square and enlarged and the antennae fit into grooves on the side of the head. The soldiers of some species have a huge disc-shaped head and their only function is to place that disc head in the entrance hole to block the passage of any creature except their own workers. This species does not have a disc-headed soldier. This genus of ants are also the now famous "gliding ants". When one of these ants accidentally fall from an upper branch, it can semi-glide itself towards the trunk of the tree and safely return to it's nest.
For the developers at New York start-up Networked Organisms, smartphones are the butterfly nets of the 21st Century. Their tool, Project Noah, lets people upload photos of plants and wildlife around them, creating a map of the natural world and contributing to scientific research in the process.
Bespectacled scientists of yore would carry around hefty field guides, made up of hundreds of pages of text and photos. But these days, smartphone owners have a lighter option: an app called Project Noah, which aims to help people identify plants and animals as well as collect data from "citizen scientists" about where certain species are located.
Project Noah enables us to be part of a more focused online community where we can learn more about wildlife around us and contribute to scientific research. It pulls participants into deeper, more meaningful engagement by enabling people to go on “missions” to collectively map changes based on sightings.
A modern invention that may also hold the key to saving species in the future. Project Noah is a global study that encourages nature lovers to document the wildlife they encounter, using a purpose built phone app and web community. In addition to the virtual "collection" of species, Project Noah encourages citizen science by linking up with existing surveys including the International Spider Survey and the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.