Praying Mantis in Amber

 

Mantids:  Order Orthoptera

Mantids (or mantis) are characterized by a lengthened thorax (chest) and a head that can turn 180 degrees.  They typically carry their barbed front legs in an attack position.  It looks like a praying position, giving them the nickname "praying mantis."  They could very well be called "praying mantis" because they are fierce and fearless, attacking prey from insects to small animals like lizards.  The female often devours the male after mating; this also occurs between nymphs.  They are very rare in amber and prized by collectors.

The amber is clear and about 1.25 x 1  x .5 inches.  The mantis is just off center.  The mantis has beautiful features, you can see the facets of the eye (microscope) and the entire body very well. On the other side of the mantis is a fungus gnat, Diptera: Mycetophylidae.  Also there is a medium sized spider.

Here is a scanned image of the praying mantis next to a ruler so you can see the actual size.

Insect Order Phasmida (the stick or leaf insects) is believed to have appeared in the Lower Triassic and is one of the most interesting Orders in Subphylum Insecta. They are a poignant example of the innovation of natural selection in creating stealth for survival. They typically are either stick-like or leaf-like in appearance, (this one is a stick)  a camouflage or mimicry that is their common characteristic; many will also play possum for hours. "Phasmid" is derived from the Latin term for phantom (phasma), and finding them in the wild can be very difficult for even an experienced collector. You might correctly guess then, that fossil Phasmida are exceedingly rare -- hence the paucity of specimens. They do not have their hindlegs adapted for jumping as in the closely related order Orthoptera (grasshoppers, katydids, crickets and relatives). Unlike many insects, they make superb pets. A phasmid will usually live from one to two years, depending on the species. Sexual dimorphism is usually extreme with diminuative males. Some species are completely or partially parthenogenetic. They extend their evolutionary stealth to their eggs that are large and often closely resemble plant seeds This allows the females to lay viable eggs without a mate; indeed there are some species in which males are unknown to exist. Some 2500 species of Phasmids are extant.

Praying Mantis in Amber




Praying Mantis

$1,950

Praying Mantis in Amber
Praying Mantis in Amber