This “troll-haired” bug is one of the coolest-looking insects we’ve ever seen.
The tiny unidentified creature, which is only 5 millimeters long, was found in the Suriname rainforest by ecologists who discovered 60 new species on a research expedition last year. A photo of the planthopper was featured on National Geographic Tuesday.
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The little planthopper is thought to be partway through metamorphosis in this photo.
The bug’s wild “hairdo” is actually waxy secretions from its abdomen that are thought to be a defense mechanism to distract predators from its more vulnerable parts, according to conservation biologist Trond Larsen, who discovered the bug on a trip to the South American rainforest last year.
“It could be that they fool a predator into attacking the wrong part of the insect, and the wax breaks off while the insect jumps to safety,” Larsen wrote in a blogpost for Conservation International, the environmental nonprofit that organized the expedition.
It may not be surprising that Larsen and his team discovered 60 new species not previously known to science. The rainforest in southern Suriname is “among the most remote and unexplored tracts of rainforest left on Earth,” Conservation International notes.
(Hat tip National Geographic)