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CERATOCRANIA MACRA
BARK HORNED MANTIS
CLEAR RESIN ENCAPSULATION

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PHASMID STUDIES (PDF)

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Classification

Phylum Arthropoda

Class Insecta

Order Mantodea

Family Mantidae

Subfamily Phyllotheliinae

Genus Ceratocrania

Species Ceratocrania Macra

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PHASMID STUDIES volume 11 (PDF)

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CERATOCRANIA MACRA MANTIS

The Bark Horned Mantis, Ceratocrania macra, of the Family Mantidae and sub-family Phyllotheliinae. This mantid was photographed on the Tor Thip trail west of Panoenthung at Kaeng Krachan National Park.

Sometimes mistaken with the "Ghost Mantis", of which it is not because the commonly referred to Ghost Mantis is in fact African. The bark horned mantis has a certain beauty about it, some mantids have an almost evil and alien look to them as a result of the evolutionary design. The Ceratocrania macra has a whimsical look to it, almost comical in some respects. A killer in a party hat.

Being a carnivorous insect, the mantis feeds primarily on other insects.They feed mostly on insects like flies, butterflies, crickets, moths, spiders, and other insects smaller than themselves.To capture their prey, mantids use their camouflage to blend in with the surroundings and wait for the prey to be within striking distance. They then use their raptorial front legs to quickly snatch the victim and devour it alive. About 5 cm high and well camoflagued, keep a look out in leaf litter and on decaying branches at the edge of trails and you may just see one.

Mantises are an order (Mantodea) of insects that contains over 2,400 species in about 430 genera in 15 families. The largest family is the Mantidae (mantids). Mantises are distributed worldwide in temperate and tropical habitats. They have triangular heads with bulging eyes supported on flexible necks. Their elongated bodies may or may not have wings, but all Mantodea have forelegs that are greatly enlarged and adapted for catching and gripping prey; their upright posture, while remaining stationary with forearms folded, has led to the common name praying mantis.

Mantises were considered to have supernatural powers by early civilizations, including Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, and Assyria. A cultural trope popular in cartoons imagines the female mantis as a femme fatale. Mantises are among the insects most commonly kept as pets.

The earliest mantis fossils are about 135 million years old, from Siberia. Fossils of the group are rare: by 2007, only about 25 fossil species were known. Fossil mantises, including one from Japan with spines on the front legs as in modern mantises, have been found in Cretaceous amber. Most fossils in amber are nymphs; compression fossils include adults. Fossil mantises from the Crato Formation in Brazil include the 10 mm long Santanmantis axelrodi, described in 2003; as in modern mantises, the front legs were adapted for catching prey.

Mantises are generalist predators of arthropods. The majority of mantises are ambush predators that only feed upon live prey within their reach. They either camouflage themselves and remain stationary, waiting for prey to approach, or stalk their prey with slow, stealthy movements. Larger mantises sometimes eat smaller individuals of their own species, as well as small vertebrates such as lizards, frogs, and small birds.

Most mantises chase tempting prey if it strays close enough, and will go further when they are especially hungry. Once within reach, mantises strike rapidly to grasp the prey with their spiked raptorial forelegs. Some ground and bark species pursue their prey in a more active way.

Mantises are preyed on by vertebrates such as frogs, lizards, and birds, and by invertebrates such as spiders and ants. Generally, mantises protect themselves by camouflage, most species being cryptically colored to resemble foliage or other backgrounds, both to avoid predators and to better snare their prey. Those that live on uniformly colored surfaces such as bare earth or tree bark are dorsoventrally flattened so as to eliminate shadows that might reveal their presence. The species from different families called flower mantises are aggressive mimics: they resemble flowers convincingly enough to attract prey that come to collect pollen and nectar. Some species in Africa and Australia are able to turn black after a molt towards the end of the dry season; at this time of year, bush fires occur and this coloration enables them to blend in with the fire-ravaged landscape .

Aggressive mimicry: Malaysian orchid mantises are camouflaged pink or yellow, matching the coloration of local orchids.When directly threatened, many mantis species stand tall and spread their forelegs, with their wings fanning out wide. The fanning of the wings makes the mantis seem larger and more threatening, with some species enhancing this effect with bright colors and patterns on their hind wings and inner surfaces of their front legs. If harassment persists, a mantis may strike with its forelegs and attempt to pinch or bite. As part of the bluffing threat display, some species may also produce a hissing sound by expelling air from the abdominal spiracles. Mantises lack chemical protection, so their displays are largely bluff. When flying at night, at least some mantises are able to detect the echolocation sounds produced by bats; when the frequency begins to increase rapidly, indicating an approaching bat, they stop flying horizontally and begin a descending spiral toward the safety of the ground, often preceded by an aerial loop or spin. If caught, they may slash captors with their raptorial legs.

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