Thirty-three new ant species have been discovered in Central America and the Caribbean, according to scientists, with one researcher describing the ants as "the stuff of nightmares" when seen under the microscope.
The new ant species are near-blind, and also small in size; each being less than one-twelfth of an inch in length (2mm).
Jack Longino, an entomologist at the University of Utah, has released a statement saying that scientists have named about 30 percent of the ants after Mayan deities. He said, "The new species were found mostly in small patches of forest that remain in a largely agricultural landscape, highlighting the importance of forest conservation efforts in Central America."
Scientists have explained that the ants play a vital part in the ecosystem of the location; aerating soil and pollinating plants as they go about their work.
Longino also explained that under the microscope, the ants are the "stuff of nightmares. Their faces are broad shields, the eyes reduced to tiny points at the edges and the fierce jaws bristling with sharp teeth. They look a little like the monster in 'Alien'."
There are currently about 15,000 species of ants identified by scientists in the world, the statement adds. However, Longino suggests that in reality there many be a huge number of species that we are still unaware of, and could be as many as 100,000 species in total across the globe. Longino himself has discovered 131 new species
Longino released a paper on Monday in the journal Zootaxa, in which about half of the new any species are described. The remaining 50 percent will be detailed in another paper to be released soon in the same journal.