A unique rock carving spotted in the Teymareh rock art site in Central Iran with six limbs has been described as half man, half mantis. Rock carvings, or petroglyphs, of invertebrate animals, are uncommon, so entomologists joined hands with archaeologists to try to identify the motif.
They compared the carving with others around the globe and with the local six-legged creatures which its prehistoric artists might have encountered.
Entomologists Mahmood Kolnegari, Islamic Azad University of Arak, Iran; Mandana Hazrati, Avaye Dornaye Khakestari Institute, Iran; and Matan Shelomi, National Taiwan University joined hands with freelance archaeologist and rock art expert Mohammad Naserifard and describe the petroglyph in a new paper featured in the open-access Journal of Orthoptera Research.
The 14-centimeter carving was first found during surveys between 2017 and 2018; however, it couldn’t be recognized as a result of its unusual shape. The six legs suggest an insect, while the triangular head with big eyes and the grasping forearms are those of a praying mantid, a predatory insect that hunts and captures flies, bees, and even small birds.
It’s presently impossible to inform precisely how old the petroglyphs are, as restrictions on Iran ban the use of radioactive materials required for radiocarbon dating.
One can just guess why prehistoric people felt the need to carve a mantis-man into the rock; however, the petroglyph suggests humans have connected mantids to the supernatural since historic times.