Hypoponera jocosa Bolton & Fisher, Bolton, B. & Fisher, B. L., 2011

Bolton, B. & Fisher, B. L., 2011, Taxonomy of Afrotropical and West Palaearctic ants of the ponerine genus Hypoponera Santschi (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)., Zootaxa 2843, pp. 1-118: 64-65

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Hypoponera jocosa Bolton & Fisher

sp. n.

Hypoponera jocosa Bolton & Fisher  HNS  sp. n.

WORKER (holotype in parentheses). Measurements: HL 0.59 – 0.60 (0.60), HW 0.48 (0.48), HS 0.535 – 0.540 (0.540), SL 0.39 – 0.41 (0.40), PrW 0.36 – 0.38 (0.37), WL 0.76 – 0.80 (0.78), HFL 0.39 – 0.40 (0.38), PeNL 0.14 – 0.15 (0.15), PeH 0.38 – 0.40 (0.39), PeNW 0.25 – 0.28 (0.27), PeS 0.257 – 0.273 (0.270) (3 measured). Indices: CI 80 – 81 (80), SI 81 – 85 (83), PeNI 69 – 74 (73), LPeI 35 – 37 (38), DPeI 179 – 200 (180).

Eyes absent. Apex of scape, when laid straight back from its insertion, distinctly fails to reach the midpoint of the posterior margin in full-face view; SL/HL 0.66 – 0.68. Cephalic dorsum densely reticulate-punctate; lateroventral surfaces of head with scattered small punctures that are separated by shining areas of cuticle. Pronotal dorsum obviously much less strongly and less densely sculptured than cephalic dorsum, with scattered small punctures. Metanotal groove absent from dorsum of mesosoma, though a faint vestige of the junction between mesonotum and propodeum remains. Propodeum marginate between declivity and side. Posterior surface of petiole node with about 4 short, inconspicuous cuticular ridges that are restricted to the extreme apex of the peduncle and extreme base of the node. Node of petiole in profile slender, short and high, with the anterior and posterior faces parallel and the dorsum shallowly convex. Petiole node in dorsal view broad relative to its length; posterior face transverse and anterior face convex, the dorsum longest medially and tapering rapidly on both sides. Subpetiolar process with a blunt ventral angle. Maximum width of first gastral tergite in dorsal view slightly greater than width of second gastral tergite at its midlength. Cross-ribs at base of cinctus of second gastral tergite very conspicuous, coarse and densely crowded. Midline length of second gastral posttergite, from posterior margin of cinctus to apex, is distinctly less than the width of the segment at its midlength. Disc of second gastral tergite with sharply incised, coarse, conspicuous punctures that are separated by areas of glossy cuticle; the diameters of the punctures are equal to or slightly less than the distances that separate the punctures. First gastral tergite in profile densely pubescent dorsally and with short setae present. Full adult colour: cephalic dorsum black; mesosoma, petiole and gaster dark brown.

Holotype worker, Ethiopia: Ilubador Region, Buno Bedele, nr Bedele, 29/31.vii.2002, Museo Zoologico “ La Specola ”, num. MAG 2484 (A. Sforzi & L. Bartolozzi) (MSNF). Paratypes. 2 workers and 1 dealate queen, with same data as holotype (MSNF, BBRC).

Although known from only three worker specimens, jocosa  HNS  is easily distinguished from all other known species in its complex. The species that resemble jocosa  HNS  most closely include jeanneli  HNS  , mixta  HNS  , quaestio  HNS  , surda  HNS  and ursa  HNS  (see under jeanneli  HNS  ), but in all of these the petiole node is distinctly less slender in profile and is relatively narrower in dorsal view. LPeI and DPeI in jocosa  HNS  are 35 – 38 and 179 – 200 respectively, whereas the indices in the other five together are LPeI 43 – 50 and DPeI 137 – 172. In addition, the scapes of jocosa  HNS  are relatively short, with SI 81 – 85 and SL/HL 0.66 – 0.68. In mixta  HNS  , surda  HNS  and ursa  HNS  these indices are SI 86 – 93, SL/HL 0.71 – 0.75. There is overlap with jocosa  HNS  only in some specimens of jeanneli  HNS  , which has SI 82 – 88, SL/HL 0.64 – 0.72, but in this species LPeI is greater than, and DPeI less than, the figures seen in jocosa  HNS  .

The ridges at the base of the posterior face of the petiole are small and inconspicuous. If these are overlooked, jocosa  HNS  specimens will key out at the couplet that contains molesta  HNS  and venusta  HNS  . However, the differently shaped petioles of the three species will quickly separate them. In molesta  HNS  and venusta  HNS  together, their combined LPeI is 47 – 56, considerably greater than the LPeI 35 – 37 of jocosa  HNS  . Individually, the PeNI of molesta  HNS  (89 – 94) is much greater than that of jocosa  HNS  (69 – 74), while the DPeI of venusta  HNS  (139 – 160) is much lower than that of jocosa  HNS  (179 – 200).

In the known Ethiopian fauna jocosa resembles juxta  HNS  . The possibility must be considered that the latter is merely a small representative of the former in which the minute cuticular ridges of the posterior petiole have been lost. However, among the very few specimens currently available the juxta  HNS  holotype is distinctly smaller than the specimens of jocosa  HNS  and has a somewhat differently shaped petiole, as indicated by comparison of their respective measurements and indices. For the present, until more material can be accumulated, these differences are considered sufficient to separate them as separate taxa.