Praying mantises are vicious hunters, and the bush tiger is no exception. This bush tiger is a newly-discovered species of praying mantis. Dubbed as Dystacta tigrifrutex and was uncovered in Rwanda's Nyungwe National Park
Females of the species do not possess wings; they only hunt prey close to the ground, in the thick undergrowth. This sleek hunting behavior reminded researchers of cats, which earned the species its popular name. The male of the species is equipped with wings, and is able to fly.
Gavin Svenson, The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, led the expedition to study insects in the area.
The investigators found the previously-unknown animals using a trap, along with a light to attract insects. The first of the tiny creatures were seen on a cool, dark night.
"The male was attracted to a metal halide light system and was found on the ground near the trap. The female was found in close proximity to the light walking through ground vegetation. It was not clear if the female was attracted to the light, but the male is assumed to have flown in specifically to the light," researchers wrote in the article detailing their discovery.
Fortunately for researchers, the female was carrying an egg case, known as an ootheca. Soon, the researchers saw nymphs emerging from the enclosure. This chain of events gave biologists a chance to view both male and female members of a new species, as well as observing young as they come into the world. This is a rare opportunity in such cases.
Riley Tedrow, a third year student at Case Western Reserve University was the one who captured the first of the new species. Nasasira Richard and Kabanguka Nathan from the Kitabi College of Conservation and Environmental Management assisted the team on their survey.
The two-week long expedition identified several potential new species. It took more than eight months to identify all the samples collected by the researchers. A total of 21 measurements were taken from the newly-found insects, and compared to vast databases of other similar insects. This research led the team to conclude that they found a new species of the genus Dystacta, which previously had only one recognized member, D. alticeps. That type of mantis is found throughout Africa.
Svenson and his team plan to return to the area in June, in order to determine if the species lives anywhere, other than the area where the mantises were captured.
Discovery of the new species was profiled in the open-access journal Zookeys.