Habitat: Costa Rica
Status: Not Evaluated
Back in 2012, photographer Oscar Blanco was lucky enough to spot this minute praying mantis that mimicked its mossy environment to perfection. Its abdomen is covered in leafy appendages that make it appear to be half plant, half insect. He snapped a few quick shots of it and then moved on. Little did he know, this was a species only known from a single text dating back to 1935.
Blanco met with an expert on mantises who traced the description of the little moss mantis back to the 1935 text by Rehn, which described a species very similar to it. However, there were no photographs or illustrations available so the species name is, currently, just an educated guess. Blanco and the expert decided that it might in fact be the elusive Pogonogaster tristani.
The mantis was not spotted again until October 6th, 2013 thanks to Blanco’s friend with hawk-like eyes who spotted another tiny specimen. The photo below shows (what they believe to be) a nymph of the species, though the adult probably does not get to be much bigger.
When Blanco had the fortune of coming across the rare creature for a second time, he jumped on the chance to film it. Here we have (what might be) the only video footage of this spectacular mantis: