SUSUMU NISHINAGA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SUSUMU NISHINAGA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Ant mouthparts. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the mouthparts of an ant (family Formicidae). The powerful mandibles (jaws, centre and upper left) are overlapping. The one at upper left has its serrated edge visible. It is this serrated edge that is used to bite and rend prey, or to cut vegetation. Bristles around the mandibles help the ant sense what it is eating or cutting, and the palps (long segmented structures) below the cutting mandibles are used to manipulate objects and pass food into its mouth (below and behind mandibles).
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