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Hörnig, Marie K.; Haug, Joachim T.; Haug, Carolin (2017): An exceptionally preserved 110 million years old praying mantis provides new insights into the predatory behaviour of early mantodeans. In: PeerJ, Vol. 5, e3605


Mantodeans or praying mantises are flying insects and well known for their raptorial behaviour, mainly performed by their first pair of thoracic appendages. We describe here a new, exceptionally preserved specimen of the early mantodean Santanmantis axelrodi Grimaldi, 2003 from the famous 110 million years old Crato Formation, Brazil. The incomplete specimen preserves important morphological details, which were not known in this specific form before for this species or any other representative of Mantodea. Unlike in modern representatives or other fossil forms of Mantodea not only the first pair of thoracic appendages shows adaptations for predation. The femora of the second pair of thoracic appendages bear numerous strong, erect spines which appear to have a sharp tip, with this strongly resembling the spines of the first pair of thoracic appendages. This indicates that individuals of S. axelrodi likely used at least two pairs of thoracic appendages to catch prey. This demonstrates that the prey-catching behaviour was more diverse in early forms of praying mantises than anticipated.