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'Bush tiger' praying mantis discovered in Rwanda

"The new species is amazing because the fairly small female prowls through the underbrush searching for prey while the male flies and appears to live higher in the vegetation," explained researcher Riley Tedrow.
By Brooks Hays   |   May 21, 2014 at 11:21 AM
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CLEVELAND, May 21 (UPI) -- "Vicious" is how some news outlets are describing a new species of praying mantis discovered in the African nation of Rwanda. It sounds like an overstatement, but for the small insects scurrying about the rainforest floor, the fear is probably very real.

Dystacta tigrifrutex, or the "bush tiger mantis," was discovered in Nyungwe Forest National Park in the southwest corner of Rwanda.

"The new species is amazing because the fairly small female prowls through the underbrush searching for prey while the male flies and appears to live higher in the vegetation," explained researcher Riley Tedrow, who is studying evolutionary biology at Case Western Reserve University.

It's apparently not a man's world in the jungle underbrush of Rwanda, as the wingless females seem to be the main bread-winners.

"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, which adds significant justification for protecting the park to ensure species like this can continue to exist," said Dr. Gavin Svenson, who accompanied Tedrow on the three-week survey of wildlife in the Rwandan national park.

Svenson is the curator of invertebrate zoology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and a professor at Case Western Reserve University.

Tedrow and Svenson's survey was assisted by Kabanguka Nathan and Nasasira Richard from the Kitabi College of Conservation and Environmental Management in Rwanda. While the survey only lasted three weeks, it took several months to identify all the specimens they collected.

The bush tiger mantis is the only newly discovered species found during the expedition. The researchers confirmed the mantis' uniqueness by comparing it to similar species from other museum collections.

The mantis' entrance into the official biological record books is detailed in the latest issue of ZooKeys.

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