Hypoponera lea (Santschi),

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: 112

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Hypoponera lea (Santschi)


Hypoponera lea (Santschi)  HNS 

Ponera lea Santschi  HNS  , 1937a: 73, fig. 2. Syntype worker (leg fragments only), SIERRA LEONE: Njala, 21.xii.26, on palm (E. Hargreaves) (NMHB) [examined]. [Redescribed and refigured: Santschi, 1938: 78, fig. 1. Combination in Hypoponera  HNS  : Bolton, 1995: 215.]

In the original description Santschi states that there are three workers in the type-series of this taxon. Only one is now present in NHMB and the specimen unfortunately was destroyed at some time in the past so that only a few fragments of legs remain on the mount. The whereabouts of the other two syntypes are not known. From the original description and figure it could easily be argued that lea is yet another synonym of punctatissima  HNS  , but the conclusion is rendered insecure by the redescription and new figure issued by Santschi in 1938, supposedly based on the same specimens. In the original (1937) figure there is no mesonotal-mesopleural suture indicated and the petiole node in profile appears relatively lower, longer and more broad-topped, generally resembling punctatissima  HNS  . In the later (1938) figure, a mesonotal-mesopleural suture is very conspicuous and the node in profile appears higher, shorter and more narrowly rounded dorsally, altogether more like dulcis  HNS  . Despite Santschi’s (1938) statement that lea is closely related to cognata  HNS  (a junior synonym of punctatissima  HNS  ), a large element of doubt remains, because while the mesonotal-mesopleural suture is absent in workers of punctatissima  HNS  , it is present in those of dulcis  HNS  . The possibility cannot be dismissed that the original syntype series of lea was mixed, and that Santschi has drawn one of each in his two mentions of the species. It is therefore necessary to treat lea as a species inquirenda until one or both of the other syntypes can be located, a lectotype designated, and the name placed in the synonymy of one or the other species.