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Ponera abeillei AndreHNS, 1881: 61 and xlviii. Syntype workers, FRANCE: Corsica, nr Ajaccio (Abeille de Perrin) (MNHN) [examined]. [Description of male: Santschi, 1921b: 167. Combination in Ponera (Hypoponera)HNS: Santschi, 1938: 79; in HypoponeraHNS: Taylor, 1967: 12.] (See note.)
WORKER. Measurements: HL 0.54 – 0.56, HW 0.39 – 0.40, HS 0.465 – 0.480, SL 0.37 – 0.38, PrW 0.30, WL 0.68, HFL 0.34, PeNL 0.15, PeH 0.28 – 0.29, PeNW 0.22, PeS 0.217 – 0.220 (2 measured). Indices: CI 71 – 72, SI 95, PeNI 73, LPeI 52 – 54, DPeI 147.
Eyes absent. In full-face view apex of scape, when laid straight back from its insertion, fails to reach the mid-point of the posterior margin; SL/HL 0.68 – 0.69. Reticulate-punctulate sculpture of cephalic dorsum very fine and superficial; pronotal dorsum with minute punctulae, almost smooth. Lateroventral surfaces of head almost smooth, only with widely separated minute punctulae. With mesosoma in dorsal view the metanotal groove absent. Propodeal declivity separated from sides by blunt angles; not sharply marginate, not carinate. Mesopleuron unsculptured. Petiole in profile with the node relatively short and of moderate height, the anterior and posterior faces vertical, straight and parallel, not converging dorsally; dorsal surface almost flat. In profile the anterodorsal angle of the petiole node is conspicuously more broadly rounded than the posterodorsal angle; the latter almost a right-angle. Subpetiolar process with a small, shallow ventral angle. Posterior surface of petiole node without a transverse groove or impression above the peduncle and lacking cuticular ridges that radiate upwards from the posterior petiolar peduncle. Maximum width of first gastral tergite in dorsal view distinctly less than the width of the second tergite at its midlength. First gastral tergite in dorsal view as long as or slightly longer than broad, much narrower across the anterior margin (ca 0.20) than across the posterior margin (ca 0.32) and with the sides distinctly divergent posteriorly . Base of cinctus of second gastral tergite with distinct cross-ribs. Sides of second gastral segment straight and parallel for most of their length in dorsal view; narrowing extremely feebly only at the cinctus anteriorly and the apex posteriorly. Posttergite of second gastral segment, from posterior margin of cinctus to apex, as long as broad to slightly longer than broad. Disc of second gastral tergite shallowly reticulate-punctate to microreticulate. Full adult colour light brownish yellow.
Although not yet recorded from the Afrotropical region proper, abeilleiHNS appears to be closely related to meridiaHNS, orbaHNS and coecaHNS. It is very probable that abeilleiHNS is of Afrotropical origin, but has not yet been detected south of the Sahara. Its known distribution consists of sporadic circum-Mediterranean discoveries, but it appears to be very rare everywhere. Published records of the species exist for Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia (Baroni Urbani, 1971; Bernard, 1967; Boieiro, et al. 2002; Collingwood & Agosti, 1996; Emery, 1916; Espadaler & López-Soria, 1991; Kugler, 1988; Santschi, 1921b), and it has recently been reported from Egypt (Mostafa Sharaf, pers. comm.). In the circum-Mediterranean zone it is very obviously different from all other HypoponeraHNS species as it is the only one that is eyeless, lacks a metanotal groove across the dorsal mesosoma and has distinct cross-ribs at the base of the cinctus of the second gastral tergite, a combination of characters that render it easily identifiable. In his key, Bernard (1953) recorded abeilleiHNS from Cameroun, but it is suspected that he included the name merely because camerunensisHNS had originally been described as an infraspecific form of abeilleiHNS, from that country. Forel (1905) described an infraspecific form, abeillei r. assmuthiHNS, from India. Forel himself expressed doubts about the association and it now seems most probable that assmuthiHNS is not correctly assigned here. It is most likely an independent species but has not yet been investigated in detail. To remove the name from its association with abeilleiHNS it is provisionally raised to species rank here, pending detailed investigation: Hypoponera assmuthiHNS (Forel, 1905: 182) stat. n.
Material examined. France: Corsica, nr Ajaccio (Abeille de Perrin).
Collected most commonly using these methods: 3 times Hand.
Type specimens: syntype of Ponera abeillei: casent0915488