Praying Mantis

Like sharks, the praying mantis has more or less perfected its evolution and spent the past few billion years largely unchanged. Unlike sharks, this mantis was found in my front yard.

Of course, it wasn’t perched on a stick just showing off when I found it. It was in the bushes, trying very hard to look like a leaf. And of course, it does. That decayed look on its wings is not physical damage, its camoflage. In the insect world, the mantis is the absolute master of disguise.

It also helps that praying mantises have ridiculously powerful front legs, with what is basically half a mouthful of teeth on each one. But these are just for holding; the mantis eats its prey alive while the massive claws keep it from escaping. Some of them even eat snakes, and I wish I was making that up.