The most ancient petroglyph with the image of a mantis was found in Iran. This is an extremely rare case when rock art depicts an invertebrate animal, according to a study by scientists from the Islamic University of Azad Arak, published in the journal Journal of Orthoptera Research.
Carving on a stone about 14 cm high was first discovered during excavations in the central part of Iran between 2017 and 2018, however, at first, archaeologists could not identify it due to its unusual shape.
Six limbs in the figure indicate that it depicts an insect, while large eyes and grasping upper legs are highly likely to belong to the mantis, scientists have determined.
A detailed study of the drawing and comparison of the image with the catalog of the local fauna allowed scientists to assume that the mantis depicted in the figure belongs to the species Empusa.
Researchers believe that the paws in the middle of the figure with strange circles at the ends do not belong to the mantis, but look like Squatter Man – an anthropomorphic figure that is depicted in petroglyphs around the world.
So far, archaeologists cannot say exactly how old the petroglyphs are – sanctions against Iran prohibit the use of radioactive materials necessary for radiocarbon dating. The authors of the study suggest that the drawings were made about 40 thousand years ago.