Like the opening scene to a Jurassic Park sequel, a miner in Myanmar stumbled across a cockroach encased in an amber tomb – that was roughly about 100 million years old.
The perfectly preserved specimen, which was a predatory ancestor of the praying mantis, is called Manipulator Modificaputis and was documented by Peter Vršanský from the Geological Institute in Bratislava, Slovakia, and Günter Bechly from the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany, in the journal Geologica Carpathica.
With its long neck able to rotate freely, lanky spineless legs, and elongated forearms, the researchers suggest that the insect actively hunted prey by chasing it down. During the Cretaceous, a few different lineages of predatory cockroaches evolved, of which the only one surviving to modern day is the praying mantis. Found alongside another four individuals of the same species, the amber deposits in Myanmar are especially useful for building up a picture of what the ancient ecosystem looked like.