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Researchers Discover New Species Of Praying Mantis In Rwanda

Update Date: May 21, 2014 11:52 AM EDT
insects, mantis
Entomologists have discovered a new species of praying mantis during a survey of the insects in Nyungwe National Park, Republic of Rwanda. (Photo : Tedrow R et al)

Entomologists have discovered a new species of praying mantis during a survey of the insects in Nyungwe National Park, Republic of Rwanda.

The newly discovered insects have been named Bush tiger mantis (Dystacta tigrifrutex) and this is because of the similarities in hunting practices with one of the world's favorite big cats.

Soon after the female was placed in captivity, she laid an egg case, called an ootheca, and the entomologists were later able to see the emerging nymphs, reported Sci-News. Eventually, these events enabled scientists to describe in one go the male, female, nymphal stages. Researchers also explained a larger portion of Bush tiger mantis' biology.

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Researchers after keen observations, concluded that the specimens were from the genus Dystacta, which up until now had only one species called Dystacta alticeps.

Compared to the previously known species, the Bush tiger mantis is shorter by a third to a half, has fewer spines on parts of legs and has different coloration patterns on the underside region, called the prosternum, where the front legs attach, according to Sci-News.

"Dystacta alticeps, the sister species, is spread all over Africa. The new praying mantis species was found in the high altitude rain forest region of southwestern Rwanda and probably only lives within Nyungwe National Park, which adds significant justification for protecting the park to ensure species like this can continue to exist," said team leader Dr Gavin Svenson from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Case Western Reserve University, in the press release.

"We knew this mantis was special after completing nearly eight months of work to identify all the specimens found during the three week expedition," added team member Riley Tedrow, also from the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Museum of Natural History, in the press release.

"The new species is amazing because the fairly small female prowls through the underbrush searching for prey while the male flies and appears to live higher in the vegetation."

The research has been published in the journal ZooKeys.

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