New research reveals that two different evolutionary shifts toward camouflage investment occurred in the the charismatic horned praying mantises. The most recent shift in increased accumulation of numerous cryptic features occurred only after the re-evolution of important leg lobes that help disguise the appearance of the mantis from predators.
This second evolution of camouflage investment followed a similar pathway to the first and suggests that cryptic features may originate through conserved developmental mechanisms.
"Avoiding predators depends on camouflage in praying mantises, but we have known little about the patterns of how structures contributing to crypsis evolved," said Dr. Gavin Svenson, lead author of the Systematic Entomology study. "Finding two amazing mantis lineages that evolved structural camouflage millions of years apart in extremely similar ways not only suggests re-evolution occurred, but indicates that the developmental mechanisms controlling crypsis features may be more ancient than the camouflage mantises themselves."
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