Mantis-man Petroglyph

A rare rock carving of an insect found in the Teymareh site of Central Iran has been jointly described by a team of entomologists and archaeologists. The petroglyph shows a six-limbed creature with the head and arms of a praying mantis, but with two circles at its sides, similarly to the famous 'squatter man' petroglyph found at several locations around the world.

The rock art, estimated to date back 4,000 to 40,000 years, was found in Markazi province by researchers aiming to identify animals depicted in petroglyphs in the area in 2017 and 2018.

The carving, which was analyzed with the help of an archeologist, depicts a creature with six legs, large eyes, a triangular head and the arms of a praying mantis. The figure also has the legs of the “squatting man” motif seen in rock art around the world.

In the findings published in the Journal of Orthoptera Research, the team identified the insect as an Empusa pennata, commonly known as a conehead mantis.

“The Iranian motif seems to be a combination of 'praying mantis' and 'squatting (squatter) man,' so it is hereby named 'squatting (squatter) mantis man,'” the research team wrote.