Friday, April 25, 2008

Ancient Praying Mantis Found in Amber...

An 87-million-year-old praying mantis found encased in amber in Japan may be a "missing link" between mantises from the Cretaceous period and modern-day insects.

The fossil mantis measures 0.5 inch (1.4 centimeters) from its antennae to the tip of its abdomen.

Although the forelegs, head, and antennae appear to be well preserved, the wings and abdomen have been badly crushed.

Kazuhisa Sasaki, director of the Kuji Amber Museum, found the fossil creature in January buried 6.5 feet (2 meters) below the surface in an amber mine in Japan's northeastern Iwate Prefecture.

"This part of Japan is famous for producing large amounts of amber, but it was very fortunate for me to find this specimen," Sasaki said.

"I found it in a deposit that had lots of other insects—ancient flies, bees, and cockroaches—but this was the only praying mantis."

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