A new species of praying mantis, Liturgusa algorei, indigenous to the thick rain forests of Peru has been named after former vice president Al Gore; one of 19 new species of the insect recently identified by entomologist Gavin Svenson.
The discoveries came after Svenson, curator of invertebrate zoology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, decided to search through both old collections at museums and embark on field expeditions into the forests of Central and South America. Unlike the patient, zen-like praying mantis we're all familiar with, these equatorial cousins take a decidedly different approach to both hunting and self-preservation.
"This group, the Neotropical bark mantises, are incredibly fast runners that live on the trunks and branches of trees," Svenson told Nature World News. "This violates the common perception of praying mantises being slow and methodical hunters."
One other characteristic Gore will be happy to know isn't present: the sexual cannibalistic tendencies displayed by most species of predatory mantis. They're also more likely to stay alive by fleeing from the tree tops when spooked. "Some species leap off the tree trunk to avoid capture and play dead after fluttering down to the forest floor since none of the species are strong fliers," writes Svenson.
As for Liturgusa algorei, Svenson says he decided to honor the former V.P. "his environmental activism including his efforts to raise public awareness of global climate change."
You can read the full report on all 19 new bark mantis species in the journal ZooKeys.
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