A team of archaeologists and entomologists described a ancient petroglyph found in the town of Teymareh (Iran) representing astrange creature with six limbs, part man and part praying mantis, according to a study published last week in the Journal of Orthoptera Research.
The rock carving, about 14 centimeters long and 11 wide, was first seen between 2017 and 2018, but at the time researchers were unable to identify the unusual shape of the engraving, which dates back at least 4,000 years.
Because the petroglyphs of invertebrate animals are rare to find, specialists were forced to compare the motif with local insects and with similar forms of geometric rock art.
The limbs and triangular head with large eyes suggest that it is the species of praying mantis Empusa present in Iran, a predatory insect that hunts prey such as flies or even small birds.
The researchers also note that the engraving appears to have middle limbs that display a symbol found in rock art around the world: a squatting man flanked by circles.
Inspiration for the first humans
«The Iranian motif appears to be a combination of a praying mantis and a man"The researchers say, noting that it is possible that this zoomorphic engraving discovered in a mountainous region was created by nomadic tribes.
«Humanity's interest in the praying mantis can be traced back to prehistoric times«, They add.
The team suggests that prehistoric man may have been fascinated with this insect because of itshunting ability, which may have been an inspiration to early humans.
«The useless but amazing praying mantises could have deserved petroglyphs of their forms as part of ancient religions, fears or admiration«, They conclude.