Fastest-moving animal in the world is… an ant

Known as the dracula ant, its jaws snap shut 5,000 times faster than the blink of an eye at 200mph.

The tiny insect is comfortably ahead of the cheetah, whose record running speed is 60mph.

Researchers believe the ants, found in Africa, Australia and southeast Asia, use their rapidly accelerating jaws to smash into potential prey.

Entomologist Professor Andrew Suarez, from the University of Illinois, said: “Their powerful jaws work like a mousetrap, except the latch and spring mechanism are all in one.

“The ants use this motion to smack other arthropods, likely stunning them, smashing them against a tunnel wall or pushing them away.”

Instead of pushing their jaws together, dracula ants slide one across the other in a motion that takes 23 microseconds.

He added: “Even among ants that power-amplify their jaws, the dracula ants are unique – instead of using three different parts for the spring, latch and lever arm, all three are combined in the mandible.”

They use venom to stun their prey which are then brought back to the colony for the larvae to feed upon.

They are called dracula ants after Count Dracula, the fictional vampire, due to their unusual feeding habits.

Queens and workers practice a form of “non-destructive cannablism”, which involves chewing holes into and feeding on the haemolymph, insect “blood”, of the colony’s own pupae and larvae.

Dracula ants were discovered in 1994 – and at 200mph, their jaw motion is three times faster than trap-jaw ants – the previous record-holders.

The findings were published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

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