Extremely Rare Phasmida (walking stick) in Amber

Fossil Amber Insects, Rare Phasmida (walking stick)

Geological Time: Pleistocene to Pliocene

Size: Fossil amber 79 by 55 mm; 44.4 grams

Fossil Site: Andes Mountains in Colombia

This fossil amber exemplifies both rarity and beauty, this amber piece is Extremely Rare Phasmida in Amberone of the most desirable I've seen among many, many thousands. The central inclusion is the illusive (how many have you seen in the wild lately) and stealthy (did you look right at it and not see it) Phasmida, a.k.a., walking stick. Rare they are in nature and hence in amber, and to encounter such preservation in a large specimen, with superb clarity and rich color, makes this an extraordinary collection piece. Our stealthy stick is not alone. The beauty of this 44.4 gram, 79 by 55 mm fossil resin tomb is augmented by a flying Isopteran, 5 Dipterans, and a tiny spider I forgot to photograph.

Insect Order Phasmida (the stick or leaf insects) is believed to have appeared in the Lower Triassic and is one of the most interesting Orders in Subphylum Insecta. They are a poignant example of the innovation of natural selection in creating stealth for survival. They typically are either stick-like or leaf-like in appearance, a camouflage or mimicry that is their common characteristic; many will also play possum for hours. "Phasmid" is derived from the Latin term for phantom (phasma), and finding them in the wild can be very difficult for even an experienced collector. You might correctly guess then, that fossil Phasmida are exceedingly rare -- hence the paucity of specimens in this fossil gallery. They do not have their hindlegs adapted for jumping as in the closely related order Orthoptera (grasshoppers, katydids, crickets and relatives). Unlike many insects, they make superb pets. A phasmid will usually live from one to two years, depending on the species. Sexual dimorphism is usually extreme with diminuative males. Some species are completely or partially parthenogenetic. They extend their evolutionary stealth to their eggs that are large and often closely resemble plant seeds This allows the females to lay viable eggs without a mate; indeed there are some species in which males are unknown to exist. Some 2500 species of Phasmids are extant.

See also: Museum Fossils Fossil Amber

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Extremely Rare Phasmida in Amber

Extremely Rare Phasmida in Amber

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