Japanese researchers found an 87 million-year-old praying mantis that may prove a valuable specimen in science’s unceasing and costly effort to chronicle the entire history of what normal humans call “bugs.”
The mantis, found deep in an amber deposit in northwest Japan, may reveal much about the evolution of mantis. Other specimens from the Cretaceous period lack the five or six spines on their forelegs that help modern mantises catch food. The Japanese specimen has two spines, possibly indicating evolution at work:
The block of amber is being polished to give researchers a better view of different parts of the fossil, which may reveal other differences between ancient and modern mantises, Ueda said.
“The years of the late Cretaceous period were a kind of transition phase between the ancient and modern worlds, and this fossil displays many intermediate elements between the two eras,” he said.
“It is an excellent example of the transformation of morphological structures.”
Hmmmm, indeed good sir.
For its part, the mantis doesn’t seem too happy with its place in the long march of science:
“I’ve been praying to get out of this amber for like 87 million years. What the fuck do you think?” it said.
Ancient Praying Mantis Found in Amber [National Geographic]