Hello again. Today I present news from the BBC Nature website of a mysterious new stick insect from the
“ Recently a colleague, entomologist Oskar Conle, showed us some museum specimens of a strange-looking stick insect found several years ago on
“We were baffled. It looked so different from any other known stick insect in the world that we immediately realised it was something very special.” Mr Gottardo and colleague Philipp Heller carefully examined the specimen.
“We concluded that it represented an unknown genus and species of stick insect, “ Mr Gottardo told BBC Nature. The scientists have published details of the discovery in the journal Comptes Rendus Biologies. "The new stick insect is wingless, with a stout body and rather short legs,” says Mr Gottardo.
The scientists think these features are likely to be special adaptations for living in the low-growing vegetation of a montane rainforest. Most tree-dwelling stick insects that live in the forest canopy have slender and elongated bodies and legs, thought to provide good camouflage among stick and leaves. “Another unique characteristic is the spectacular colour pattern.[A male] has dark bluish-green head and legs, and a bright orange body with distinctive bluish-black triangle-shaped spots on its back,” he adds.
It is more likely that the insect uses these striking colours to warn off predators, rather than a form of camouflage. “In fact we have discovered that the new stick insect has the ability to release a potent defensive spray from glands located behind its head. The defensive substance is sprayed when the insect feels threatened, and has a strong distasteful smell, which likely functions to repel potential predators in a similar way to skunks,” says Mr Gottardo.
The scientists have named the insect Conlephasma enigma.
The researchers hope that a more detailed molecular analysis of the stick insect`s genetics may shed light on its true identity.
“We also hope that the discovery of this particular new insect species may draw attention into the problem of rainforest conservation in the
1. Sept 4th 2012 Matt Walker, Editor, BBC Nature http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/19399735?print=true