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News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Specimen of the Week: Week two

By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 24 October 2011

Scary MonkeyThis week I have selected one of the most beautiful creatures I have seen. You absolutely have to see images of these animals because they are stunning!

As one of the most beautiful species we have on our planet, the specimen of the week is…





Here are five fantastic, funky, fabulous change-your-life-facts about the orchid mantis:


Orchid mantis at the Grant Museum

Orchid mantis (Hymenopus coronatus) at the Grant Museum. LDUCZ-L3254

1) The orchid mantis is so named because it mimics the specific orchid flowers that it grew up near in terms of size, colour and shape.


2) When attacked, the orchid mantis will react like a psychopathic biting machine, tearing at anything and everything within reach. This makes catching it very difficult for bats, birds, lizards, rodents… and scientists.


3) There is only one species of orchid mantis. It lives in the rainforests of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Sumatra.


4) Juveniles look very similar in appearance to large ants but have *bright* red-orange bodies and jet black legs and head.


5) The preying mantis was the inspiration behind the monster in Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’ . If only it had been an orchid preying mantis… it would still have been a deadly, yellow-goo-oozing big meany, but at least it would have been pretty.


You seriously have to see photos of these animals- they’re incredible!!! Click here for images of both juveniles and adults so that you can compare the two.


If you have been to the Grant Museum and have any suggestions for next week’s ‘Specimen of the Week’, pop it into the comments box and I’ll see what I can do.


You should come down to the Grant Museum to see the previous specimens of the week in the flesh… as it were.

One Response to “Specimen of the Week: Week two”

  • 1
    Emma Louise Nicholls wrote on 26 October 2011:

    Thank you to Chris for pointing out that I had missed a fact out from my list.

    Please find attached the fifth, as promised, totally-ultra-cool, can’t-live-without-knowing-this fact!

    My apologies.

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