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Plant mimic stick insect found from 126 mya

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A fossil stick insect referred to as Cretophasmomima melanogramma, in Inner Mongolia at the Jehol locality, a site from the Cretaceous period (L), and a plant fossil, Membranifolia admirabilis (R) are pictured in this handout photo courtesy of, Olivier Bethoux, a paleontologist with the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. REUTERS/O. Béthoux (L), F. Jacques (R)/National Museum of Natural History in Paris/Handout

As Reuters puts it, ”Leaf me alone“:

An international team of scientists said on Wednesday they have discovered the fossil of an insect in China that lived about 126 million years ago whose appearance mimicked that of a nearby plant. It is the oldest-known stick or leaf insect that used such natural trickery, they said.

The insect, named Cretophasmomima melanogramma, was found in Liaoning province in northeastern China, part of the Jehol rock formation that has yielded many stunningly detailed fossils of creatures like early birds and feathered dinosaurs.

It looks like the leaves of a Ginkgo tree relative that grew nearby, they say.

Described as “one of the grand-cousins” of todays mimics,

The fossil showed wings with parallel dark lines that, when the bug was in the resting position, seemed to produce a tongue-like shape that could hide its abdomen, they said. The plant had similar tongue-shaped leaves marked with multiple lines.

Here’s a current model of a modern stick insect that acts the part as well—shaking like a leaf:

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG

Question: Will we find mimics in the Cambrian? (Have we already?)

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