Praying Mantis Named After Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Like its namesake, the insect has a fondness for prominent neckwear.
A new praying mantis has been identified, and like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it has a fondness for prominent neckwear.
The new leaf-dwelling species was discovered in the wilds of Madagascar and named Ilomantis ginsburgae, after Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I. ginsburgae is the first species to be defined and classified based on its female genitalia. Historically, biologists relied on male genitalia to classify and identify species.
"This species description of Ilomantis ginsburgae is novel since it relied heavily on the features of the female genitalia," lead author Sydney Brannoch, a Case Western Reserve University doctoral candidate, said in a statement. "As a feminist biologist, I often questioned why female specimens weren't used to diagnose most species. This research establishes the validity of using female specimens in the classification of praying mantises." [Gallery: Out-of-This-World Images of Insects]
The creature in question was first discovered in Madagascar in 1967, but the specimen has been housed at the French National Museum of Natural History in Paris ever since. Only recently was it closely studied and identified. Like other praying mantises,I. ginsburgae has a green flattened body, huge bug eyes and veiny wings that resemble leaves. Like other mantises, the newly designated species has prominent neck plates that somewhat resemble the frilly collars, called jabots, that Justice Ginsburg is so fond of wearing.
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While identifying a species using the female as a prototype may be a nod toward gender equality, it also has practical uses, the researchers say.
"Developing new characteristics, especially from female specimens, helps us not only test the validity of species, but makes identification much easier," said study co-author Gavin Svenson, curator of invertebrate zoology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. "Many praying mantis species have males and females that look very different. If a person finds one sex, they may only be able to identify the specimen if their specimen's sex matches what is known from previous research. Our work reduces this impediment by characterizing both sexes for praying mantis species."
The new species is described in the May issue of the journal Insect Systematics & Evolution.
Original article on Live Science.
SEE PHOTOS: Evil Aliens? Praying Mantis Photos
Praying mantises are a wonder to behold. That is, if you only go by their deceptively peaceful "prayer" pose. The seamier truth is that praying mantises are sly, ruthless predators that can eat everything from small insects to mice and frogs. Let's take a gander at some rather freaky poses from this creature that, without hardly trying, can display an evil side. Don't be fooled by its bulging, alien-looking eyes: the praying mantis has none of "E.T.'s" charm, and it could never build a radio to call its friends in outer space.
The praying mantis has a neat trick that other insects just haven't figured out: the ability to swivel its head 180 degrees to see behind it.
Female praying mantises, in addition to knowing how to look evil, aren't above eating their mates after the deed is done.
In warmer climates, praying mantis eggs spend the winter hanging out in a cocoon-like sac attached to twigs or plant stems. When spring arrives hundred of tiny mantises will be ready to take on the world.
Those tiny, newly minted baby praying mantises get started right away in the ways of evil. If there's nothing else good to eat, they will eat their new siblings.
The state of Connecticut has made the praying mantis its State Insect. They don't scare easily in the Northeast, apparently.
Praying mantises will live for about one year in the wild.
They can see as far away as about 60 feet and, as befits their alien bearing, their outsized eyes contain some 10,000 receptors.
Insects are the staple of its diet, but larger species of praying mantis have been known to dine on fish, rodents and even scorpions, just to name a few of the bigger critters they will eat.
Praying mantises catch their prey using those once-prayerful forelegs, which have razor-like points on their insides.