Biodiversity, ecology, and behavior of the recently discovered insect order Mantophasmatodea
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The spectacular discovery of the new insect order Mantophasmatodea in 2002 was immediately followed by detailed studies on morphology and scattered information on different aspects of its behavior and general biology. A distinct feature of these predatory insects is the development of large arolia, which are typically held upright; hence, their common name is heelwalkers. The first mantophasmatodean species were described based on two museum specimens originally collected in Tanzania and Namibia. To date, these insects have been observed at surprising levels of diversity and abundance in Namibia and South Africa. For our studies on the phylogenetic relationships within Mantophasmatodea, we collected and analyzed numerous populations that belong to all known mantophasmatodean lineages, including East African populations. These collections not only provided a comprehensive biogeographical overview but also facilitated a comparative analysis of behavior, which was mainly analyzed under laboratory conditions. Here, we review and discuss the published data, as well as provide additional information on Mantophasmatodea distribution, evolutionary lineages, morphology, and biology, with a specific focus on reproductive biology.