We all know that insects have existed on this planet for hundreds of millions of years. Long before humans existed many different species of insect managed to accomplish incredible feats. We have all heard of praying mantises, and many of us know that they are effective insect predators. Praying mantises are also very old. Many species of praying mantis have already become extinct. Researchers have recently found three different praying mantis species that are related to an extinct African praying mantis. The mantises were found in the Caribbean, and researchers believe that these mantis species may be the oldest “endemic animal lineage” on the islands today.
The three different Caribbean species of praying mantis left their native continent of Africa and arrived in the Caribbean at least ninety two million years ago. The three different mantis species look nothing alike. Experts have never considered the possibility that the three mantis species could possibly be related. This is understandable, since similar physical features typically say a lot about which organisms are related. However, this case would be an exception, as genetic evidence proves that these three mantises are all related and descend from African mantises.
These mantises likely traveled on floating ocean debris in order to arrive at a region that is located far from their natural environment. If these mantis species had not arrived on Caribbean islands millions of years ago, then then they would likely not exist today. These mantises are the oldest surviving insects within the Central and South American region of the world. The three mantises existed for tens of millions of years before other mantis species reached the Caribbean. This mantis research shows that only DNA testing can yield conclusive results concerning familial relations among animals.