Ecologist and author Jerry A. Coyne writes about the amazing, bizarre treehoppers, which really, really do look like this (they were recently featured in a Nature
article on Alfred Keller, who sculpted the model shown here):
The second thing one asks is, "What the bloody hell is all that ornamentation on the thorax?" (Note that the "balls" on the antenna-like structure aren't eyes, but simply spheres of chitin.) A first guess is that it's a sexually-selected trait, but those are often limited to males, and these creatures (and the ones below) show the ornaments in both sexes. Kemp hypothesizes--and this seems quite reasonable--that "the hollow globes, like the remarkable excrescences exhibited by other treehoppers, probably deter predators." It would be hard to grab, much less chow down on, a beast with all those spines and excrescences.
The surreal treehoppers
(via Geisha Asobi
Fascinating, now gimme a double latte. (AsapSCIENCE)
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