Researchers exploring Brazil’s Atlantic Forest discovered some five to seven new species of praying mantises. Among the newfound creatures are unicorn mantises, which have mysterious, hornlike structures on their heads, as seen above on a member of the genus Zoolea.
It’s unclear exactly what purpose the protuberances serve. Perhaps they’re “meant to break up the silhouette of the animals,” says team leader Leonardo Lanna, whose Projeto Mantis expedition was funded by the National Geographic Society. Predators may then mistake them for something inedible, such as a leaf bud. Unlike their magical namesake, the praying mantises of the Atlantic Forest are experts in the art of blending in. —Douglas Main