Mantophasmatodea Insect Fossils Gallery - Gladiator
Insect Fossils
Mantophasmatodea Fossil Insects - Gladiator

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Insect Fossils
Of related interest:
Fossil Amber (Resin)


The new millennium has marked a major milestone in entomology with the discovery of a new order of insect, Mantophasmatodea. You have to go back to 1914 when another mountain-dwelling insect, Order Grylloblattodea, was discovered. The order was initially described from live specimens found in Namibia (Mantophasma zephyra and M. subsolana) and from a 45-million-year-old specimen of Baltic amber like the one shown below. The Mantophasmatodea's relation to other insects is uncertain, but current conjecture is that it is most closely related to Phasmida (stick insects) and the Grylloblattodea. However, it differs from a Phasmida in that its first body segment is the largest. Now called the "Gladiator" (as well as Mantophasmids, Mantos and Heelwalkers), it reaches up to four centimeters (1.6 inches) in length, is carnivorous and nocturnal and lives at the base of clumps of grass that grow in rock crevices. Unlike a Mantid, it uses both its fore and mid legs to catch prey, and unlike a grasshopper, it can't jump. Gladiator, and its DNA, will provide more pieces to the puzzle of the tree-of-life that remains very incomplete for insects.

Gallery of Fossil Gladiator Images
Raptophasma kerneggeri
Family: Mantophasmatidae
The 6.5 mm specimen above was found in Eocene-age (40 to 50 million year old) fossil resin (amber) from the Baltic region of Russia. Note the powerful mandibles; death grippers, spines on front legs; long, straight, wingless body; unexaggerated thorax; jumping legs; and hooked feet