Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Flying grasshopper discovered by student

14.03.2008
A PhD student with a talent for discovering new species of insects has stumbled across an entirely new genus and species of flying grasshopper after examining fossils labelled ‘stick insects’.

Sam Heads, a research student at the University of Portsmouth, was sent specimens thought to be stick insects from two German museums but he knew instantly he was looking at an ancient relative of the modern grasshopper which lived 115 million years ago.

It is not the first time Sam has identified a new species of insect and he said: “I've lost count of the number of times I've identified new species. Every time I open a museum drawer I find something new.”

The flying grasshopper belonged to a family called Proscopiidae and its role was to act like a stick, hence a possible reason for confusion over what the insects were.

... more about:
»insect »proscopiid »species

The newly-discovered insect was about five centimetres long. It is now extinct but it belonged to a family which survives and whose common names include jumping sticks, stick grasshoppers and horse-head grasshoppers.

Sam has named the new insect Eoproscopia martilli, after his university mentor Dr Dave Martill who teaches in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. One of his earlier discoveries, of a cicada, was named after another tutor Bob Loveridge.

Sam said: “Discovery is by far one of the most satisfying aspects of doing science. It is very exciting. I realised immediately that they were the first-ever fossils of this fascinating family of grasshoppers and basically just sat staring at them down the microscope for the rest of the day.

“The findings extend the geological range of the Proscopiidae back almost 120 million years into the time of the dinosaurs and allow us to glimpse into the distant and otherwise unknown evolutionary past of the family.

“I have spent the last five years researching fossil insects and identifying specimens becomes second nature.”

Eoproscopia martilli was primitive with a short head and well developed wings. Their descendants have elongated heads and have either lost their wings or seen them evolve into mere stumps or tiny winglets.

Sam said: “Proscopiids are stick mimics and it’s likely that becoming a better stick requires significant reduction of the wings. Once the wings become too small for flight, they could easily be lost through natural selection.”

To avoid predators the young grasshoppers sway back and forth or walk in a spasmodic fashion to try and mimic a stick blowing in the wind.

This family of grasshopper is common in Central and South America and unlike its closest British relative which can be heard singing through the summer, they have no ears and do not sing.

Sam said this latest find is significant because it provides a window into the evolutionary history of the proscopiid grasshoppers.

“These insects are strange and their relationships with other grasshopper groups are obscure. Eoproscopia martilli not only presents us with information about ancient proscopiids, but also provides some insight into the possible evolutionary relationships of these early grasshoppers.

“As is always the case with scientific discoveries this find has raised more questions than it has answered. In the early Cretaceous period when South America was attached to Africa this grasshopper could easily have moved between what are now two continents yet no proscopiids live in Africa today and we don’t know why.”

Kate Daniell | alfa
Further information:
http://www.port.ac.uk

Further reports about: insect proscopiid species

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First use of vasoprotective antibody in cardiogenic shock
17.05.2019 | Deutsches Zentrum für Herz-Kreislauf-Forschung e.V.

nachricht A nerve cell serves as a “single” for studies
15.05.2019 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Self-repairing batteries

UTokyo engineers develop a way to create high-capacity long-life batteries

Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...

Im Focus: Quantum Cloud Computing with Self-Check

With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.

Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...

Im Focus: Accelerating quantum technologies with materials processing at the atomic scale

'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.

However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...

Im Focus: A step towards probabilistic computing

Working group led by physicist Professor Ulrich Nowak at the University of Konstanz, in collaboration with a team of physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, demonstrates how skyrmions can be used for the computer concepts of the future

When it comes to performing a calculation destined to arrive at an exact result, humans are hopelessly inferior to the computer. In other areas, humans are...

Im Focus: Recording embryonic development

Scientists develop a molecular recording tool that enables in vivo lineage tracing of embryonic cells

The beginning of new life starts with a fascinating process: A single cell gives rise to progenitor cells that eventually differentiate into the three germ...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Discovering unusual structures from exception using big data and machine learning techniques

17.05.2019 | Materials Sciences

ALMA discovers aluminum around young star

17.05.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

A new iron-based superconductor stabilized by inter-block charger transfer

17.05.2019 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>