Northeast Ohio Researcher Makes Breakthrough Discovery About Predatory Insect

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Gavin Svenson has long studied a wide variety of insect species. But, he says the praying mantis has always held a particular fascination for him.

GAVIN SVENSON: They have an incredible behavioral system where you can actually hold them in your hand and they will look at you. Not a lot of insects will look back at you when you look at them.

Svenson, the Natural History Museum's curator of invertebrate zoology, says the more he's looked at this fierce predator, over the years, the more differences he's seen --- the more distinct variations. He has now discovered 19 new mantises. There are about 2500 different species in all.

GAVIN SVENSON: I think the most immediate results of this type of research, in naming and describing new species, is the application to conservation.

The 19 new discoveries come from an area in Central and South America that scientists didn't previously think was so diverse --- which has implications about the insect's ability to survive in more places...adding to our overall knowledge about the sustainability of life.

Svenson adds that identifying new breeds can also have an impact on medical research for humans. You'll find more about his studies in the latest issue of the internationally respected on-line journal, ZooKeys.

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