Bush Tiger Mantis: New Species of Insect Discovered in Rwandan Park

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 10:19 AM

By Michael Mullins

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The bush tiger mantis is the newest species of mantis to be discovered by researchers, who found the insect in the dense, mountainous forests of Rwanda's Nyungwe National Park.

Officially named Dystacta tigrifrutex, bush tiger mantis females, in particular, are considered "vicious" hunters, according to the researchers.

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"The new species is amazing, because the fairly small female prowls through the underbrush searching for prey, while the male flies appear to live higher in the vegetation," stated Riley Tedrow, a Case Western Reserve University evolutionary biology student who led the research, LiveScience.com noted.

While female bush tiger mantises are wingless, whereas males are said to have wings and reportedly reside in the higher vegetation within the forest.

According to TheVerge.com, scientists first discovered the new species by attracting a male bush tiger mantis to a light during a recent three-week expedition in the national park. Scientists who discovered the male mantis then happened upon its female counterpart, which had reportedly recently laid eggs, allowing the researchers to study the insect's entire life cycle.

Prior to the discovery of the bush tiger mantis, scientists had only found one species belonging to the genus Dystacta, which, according to the researchers, is spread throughout Africa.

"Dystacta alticeps, the sister species, is spread all over Africa," said Dr. Gavin Svenson, one of the lead authors of the study, ScienceDaily.com reported.

"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," Svenson added, "which adds significant justification for protecting the park to ensure species like this can continue to exist."

Apparently, another mantis resembling the bush tiger mantis had been found dead in the area prior to the discovery that led to the separate species classification. But by the time researchers had come upon the insect, ants had already devoured the male mantis' genitalia, and the other vital parts had been dried up and destroyed by Africa's relentless heat, according to the researchers.

The study was published in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

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