The fossil record of Australasian Formicidae is extremely sparse. It currently comprises two ants in the subfamilies Ponerinae and Dolichoderinae from Plio/Pleistocene strata in Victoria, Australia, 14 as-yet undescribed ants from Cape York amber, and one ant in the subfamily Amblyoponinae from the early Miocene Foulden Maar in southern New Zealand. Here, we report on a diverse myrmecofauna preserved as compression fossils from Foulden Maar and describe Amblyoponinae gen. et sp. indet., Rhytidoponera waipiata n. sp., Rhytidoponera gibsoni n. sp., Myrmecorhynchus novaeseelandiae n. sp., and Austroponera schneideri n. sp. Further isolated wings are designated as Formicidae sp. A, B, and C, the former resembling a member of subfamily Dolichoderinae. Fossils of Austroponera and Myrmecorhynchus are reported for the first time, whereas Rhytidoponera waipiata n. sp. and R. gibsoni n. sp. are the first Southern Hemisphere fossil records of this genus.
The fossil taxa from Foulden Maar establish the subfamilies Ectatomminae, Formicinae, Ponerinae and, possibly, Dolichoderinae in the Australasian region in the early Miocene and provide evidence that the few native ants in the extant New Zealand fauna are the surviving remnant of taxonomically different, possibly more diverse, warm-temperate to subtropical myrmecofauna.