Home / Science / 30 Million-Year-Old Praying Mantis Is Preserved in Pristine Piece of Amber

30 Million-Year-Old Praying Mantis Is Preserved in Pristine Piece of Amber

Praying Mantis in Amber

Picture courtesy of Heritage Auctions, www.HA.com

Embedded within a clear piece of amber, a small praying mantis sits at attention, frozen forever in time. The piece, which measures just slightly over one inch tall, was sold via Heritage Auctions for $6,000 in 2016. The pristine piece of amber, which comes from the Dominican Republic, gives a rare view of this incredible mantis.

The amber itself derives from the extinct Hymenaea protera, a prehistoric leguminous tree. Most amber found in Central and South America comes from its resin. Amber from the Dominican Republic is known as Dominican resin, which is noted for its clarity and a high number of inclusions.

Heritage Auctions dates the piece in question to the Oligocene period, placing it anywhere from about 23 million  to 33.9 million years old. It’s an important period of time where the archaic Eocene transitions into more modern ecosystems of the Miocene period, which lasted until 5 million years ago. Incredibly, the mantis itself doesn’t appear so different from what we see today.

There are over 2,400 species of mantises today, mainly living in tropical climates. But the earliest mantis fossils, which date back 135 million years, come from a place that is, today, much colder—Siberia. Some early fossils even show mantises with spines on their front legs, just like modern mantises. Whoever bought this piece of amber took home an interesting piece of evolutionary history, one that can be gazed at each day.

Take a look at this 30 million-year-old praying mantis, encased in amber and forever frozen in time.

Praying Mantis Trapped in Amber

Picture courtesy of Heritage Auctions, www.HA.com

Praying Mantis in Amber

Picture courtesy of Heritage Auctions, www.HA.com

Praying Mantis Trapped in Amber

Picture courtesy of Heritage Auctions, www.HA.com

My Modern Met granted permission to use images by Heritage Auctions.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.

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