Treehoppers: bugs that look like Dali designed them

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)