25 April 2008

Cretaceous praying mantis found

I have previously blogged about the amazing preservation of a baby mammoth in Siberian permafrost. But that was "only" preserved a few tens of thousands of years. To keep something intact for millions of years, nothing beats amber. The image above is from a report by National Geographic of the discovery of an 87-million-year-old mantid in amber. It was found 6 feet below the surface in a Japanese amber mine (wouldn't you love to dig in a place like that!).

From a scientific standpoint it's interesting not because of the age of the specimen per se, but because the mantids of that period had not yet evolved the 5 or 6 spines on their forelegs that help them trap prey; this one had two spines plus hairs.

Somewhere I've got another fascinating link re amber insects in my "to be blogged" folder. Will find and upload it later.

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