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Ponera lea SantschiHNS, 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 HypoponeraHNS: 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 punctatissimaHNS, 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 punctatissimaHNS. 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 dulcisHNS. Despite Santschi’s (1938) statement that lea is closely related to cognataHNS (a junior synonym of punctatissimaHNS), a large element of doubt remains, because while the mesonotal-mesopleural suture is absent in workers of punctatissimaHNS, it is present in those of dulcisHNS. 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.
Found most commonly in these microhabitats: 1 times on palm.
Type specimens: syntype of Ponera lea: casent0915199