- Cataglyphis bicolor, Cataglyphis bombycina, Cataglyphis savignyi, Cataglyphis fortis, Cataglyphis mauritanicus
- 53 degree(s) Celsius
- Not Applicable ()
The most heat-tolerant (thermophilic) land animals are five species of desert ant belonging to the genus Cataglyphis - namely, C. bicolor, C. bombycina, C. savignyi, C. fortis, and C. mauritanicus. All are native to the Sahara Desert in North Africa, and they are able to forage for food in the open under the scorching desert sun until their bodies attain an incredible critical upper temperature of 53°C, at which point they must seek shade at once or die within seconds. Nevertheless, this thermal upper limit is still far higher than that of other desert-dwelling animals. The two most extensively-studied desert ant species in relation to thermotolerance are C. bicolor and C. bombycina.
These thermophilic ants survive in such extreme temperatures in three ways. First, the ants move fairly quickly which minimizes their exposure to the sun. Secondly, their long legs elevate them above the surface of the desert by approximately 4 mm (0.1 in) where the temperature is 6-7 degrees cooler. And finally, when they forage the ants have a habit of pausing on stalks of dry vegetation where the lower temperatures help them to cool down. The average temperature of the human body is 37ºC, at 44ºC the human body system ceases to function resulting in death. They can travel up to 15 m per minute and can grow to 3/4 inch long.