Friday, 15 June 2012

Spiky!

Meet Lichenagraecia cataphracta, the Queensland lichen-mimicking katydid. I noticed this subadult male on my living room window one night, while I was struggling (and failing) to concentrate on Ed Miliband's testimony to the Leveson Inquiry. The katydid was rather more successful than I was at paying attention to the proceedings. In fact, it looked positively enthralled.


This is the only species in the genus Lichenagraecia. The specific epithet cataphracta refers to the armoured cavalry of ancient armies. The spines on the body and legs probably serve double duty in warding off predators and breaking up the animal's outline. No wonder they're so difficult to spot (when they're not on a window).


Lichenagraecia cataphractus is known only from a (gloved) handful of specimens. Its range extends from Mt Lewis S to the Cardwell Range. The concentration of records on the Atherton Tablelands probably reflects the population density of zoologists and natural historians. (The type locality is a garden in Atherton, so you never know what new species might be hanging around in the back yard!)


Many thanks to David Rentz who confirmed the identity of this wonderful critter.

Reference
Rentz, D.C.F., Su, Y.N. & Ueshima, N. (2012). Studies in Australian Tettigoniidae: New genera and species from North Queensland (Tettigoniidae; Conocephalinae; Armadillagraeciini trib. nov. and Agraeciini; Listroscelidinae; Requenini). Zootaxa 3173: 1–36.

5 comments:

laurak@forestwalkart said...

now THAT is the coolest looking katydid!!
what a find! wow!!

Sherrie York said...

Is it right for something so small to be so darned CUTE? Of course, maybe if it were 6 feet tall it wouldn't seem so cute anymore. I withdraw the question.

Bernie H said...

That is one spectacular looking Katydid! I think it would have my full attention too.

Snail said...

Isn't it just the moist amazing thing! There's another super-spiky katydid here --- Phricta --- but that just looks as though it's rolled around in loose rose thorns. Here's a pic of a southern species.

Bernie H said...

Huh, it sure does look like it's just landed in a rose bush. I've never seen anything like either of them.