A global team of scientists declared this week that they have found the fossils of an insect whose ancient form imitated that of nearby plants and lived over 126 million years ago. It is believed this insect has been the oldest discovered leaf or stick bug which used such natural deception. There are just over 3,000 known classes of leaf and stick insects and they are considered to be members of the insect order known as Phasmatodea, which come from the ancient Greek term meaning “phantom”.
The insect species is sometimes called a walking leaf or stick and is among the most remarkable creatures that exist in the bug world. This variety develops strange shapes in order to help hide themselves as vegetation so to avoid the detection of predators. Others of the species have compacted shapes which look like leaves and also have the correct color. Others have tubular shaped bodies that appear like bark or twigs.
There is a variety located in Malaysia that is generally known as Chan’s mega stick. It is the world’s lengthiest bug at around 22 inches.
The newly discovered insect, which has been given the scientific name of Cretophasmomima melanogramma, was discovered in a province in the north east part of China. The fossil was found to be a piece of a special rock creation known as the Jehol rock which has produced numerous strikingly detailed creature fossils of feathered type dinosaurs and early type birds. The team of researchers noticed that the fossil of the bug appeared to look very much like the leaf from a plant which had grown in the same area at that time.
The fossils also displayed wings that had corresponding dark lines that while the insect was resting, the lines seemed to make what looked like a tongue shape that was able to hide the bug’s abdomen. The plant also had the same looking tongue marks on its leaves covered with numerous lines.
Scientists believe the insects evolved in their appearance to look like the plant, eventually being able to turn a green color in order to hide itself from predators by blending with the vegetation.
C. melanogramma lived during the Cretaceous period, which was the last of the three period eras which made up the Mesozoic time period. This is also known as the true Dinosaur Age. The wet, hot humid environment held a giant plant selection, dominated mostly by distant relation of the cycas and also Gingkos.
The researchers stated the information they found in a research report, which was printed up in the science journal PLOS ONE on Wednesday. The prehistoric creature most likely used its leafy looking appearance in order to hide itself from any predators that climbed the trees to kill and eat any bugs that could be found. The scientists also stated that they had found specimens of C, melanogramma that were from both male and female sexes. Each gender was discovered to have the adapting features which were able to aid them take on the appearance of plants which also grew in the same region.
The team of scientists explained this week that they have found the fossils of an insect which lived over 126 million years ago and impersonated the appearance of nearby plants. It is believed this insect has been the oldest discovered leaf or stick bug which used such natural deception. There are just over 3,000 known classes of leaf and stick insects and they are considered to be members of the insect order known as Phasmatodea, which come from the ancient Greek term meaning “phantom”.
By Kimberly Ruble