Researchers have discovered a praying mantis belonging to a previously undescribed genus and species, which had been sitting in the insect collection of the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris since 2001. Originally collected in Madagascar, the specimen was found to have a number of unique features that distinguish it from all other mantises hitherto observed.
The insect was first spotted by Sydney Brannoch and Gavin Svenson of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, who had received a number of specimens on loan from the Paris institution for a research project. Taking into account the mantis’s place of origin and physical features, the pair were able to place it within the family Iridopterygidae.
However, they soon realized that the creature’s morphology set it apart from all genera within this family. For instance, its flattened, conical eyes and horn-like projections have not been seen in other Iridopterygidae, suggesting that the specimen is a member of an entirely new genus and species.
Reporting their find in the journal Zookeys, the researchers named the genus Cornucollis, in reference to the insect’s horns. They then called this particular species Cornucollis masoalensis, in honor of Masoala, the region of Madagascar where it originates from.
Other key features that distinguish Cornucollis masoalensis from other Iridopterygidae are the unique arrangement of speckles on its head and its lobeless legs. The particular specimen observed by the study authors measured 24.22 millimeters in length, which is small for a praying mantis.
Following the discovery, Svenson mentioned the possibility of other undiscovered species lurking in museum collections around the world. “There are untold numbers of species new to science sitting in cabinets and cases within natural history museums around the world," he said. "Often these specimens have been overlooked, in some cases for centuries. The discovery of this new praying mantis ultimately highlights the need for continued research in museum collections."