They reminded scientists of dragons so much, they named them after two of the fire-breathing beasts from the Game of Thrones.
The two new ant species from Papua New Guinea, named Pheidole drogon and Pheidole viserion, have spiny barbs along their backs and shoulders with an unusual set of muscles beneath them.
As for the namesake inspiration, Sarnat confesses not everyone was completely satisfied with the Game of Thrones choice. “Originally I had asked my wife for help, and she came up with something meaning split-horns, which was really good - a classic name for ants,” Sarnat said. But the other scientists realised the jet-black colour of P. drogon and cream of P. viserion matched the dragon scales from the fantasy drama, which they were all fans of.
“We thought it would be a little more fun, but my wife wasn’t too pleased,” Sarnat said. “She’ll get to name the next one.”