Fossils of Earliest Stick Insect Discovered

Posted on March 20, 2014

Scientists have discovered the fossils of the earliest stick insects. The insects were mimicking plants as early as 126 million years ago during the Early Cretaceous. The fossil above is of a new stick insect species, Cretophasmomima melanogramma. The fossils were found in Inner Mongolia at the Jehol locality.

The scientists say the insect probably used an ancient ginkgo plant relative as a model for concealment. The insects' wings have parallel dark lines. When the insect is in the resting position, the scientists think this produced a tongue-like shape concealing the abdomen. Fossils from a relative of the ginkgo plant have been documented in the area with similar tongue-shaped leaves along with multiple longitudinal lines.

The L.A. Times reports that lead study author Maomin Wang, from Capital Normal University, China, says the new fossil find is 77 million years older than the previously known earliest stick insect. A research paper on the stick insects is published here in PLoS One.

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