Petal-shaped femoral lobes facilitate gliding in orchid mantises - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Current Biology - CB Year : 2024

Petal-shaped femoral lobes facilitate gliding in orchid mantises


To glide in forest canopies, arboreal vertebrates evolved various skin-derived aerodynamic structures, such as patagial membranes or webbing, but no comparable structure has been reported from wingless arboreal arthropods.1,2,3 Orchid mantises (Hymenopus coronatus) have been traditionally considered a textbook example of flower mimicry for ∼200 years due to their highly expanded, petal-shaped femoral lobes. However, the empirical evidence substantiating the petal-mimicry function of the femoral lobes has not been entirely conclusive.4,5,6 Observational and experimental evidence suggests that these lobes do not contribute to flower mimicry for luring pollinators6,7 and likely serve other functions.7,8 After observing their aerial escape initiated with active jumping, we hypothesized that orchid mantises can glide and that their femoral lobes are used for gliding. Through behavioral investigations and morphological analyses, we show that orchid mantis nymphs are excellent gliders, exhibiting the shallowest gliding trajectories observed in terrestrial invertebrates.9,10,11,12,13 The lobe extensions on their femoral segments are cambered airfoils, which increase the mantis projected area by ∼36% and play a vital role in the aerodynamic underpinning of the observed gliding. Despite a 165-fold increase in body mass throughout ontogeny, older female mantis nymphs maintained a persistent gliding capability. We further showed a notable 40%–56% reduction in wing loading attributed to the positive size allometry of these lobes, indicating a clear promotion of gliding throughout ontogeny. This is the first documentation of gliding-adapted “leg wings” in a wingless arthropod. The evolution of such structures is potentially common among arboreal arthropods and demands a systematic re-examination.
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hal-04483882 , version 1 (29-02-2024)



Xin Zhao, Jing-Xin Liu, Tristan Charles-Dominique, Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, Bing Dong, et al.. Petal-shaped femoral lobes facilitate gliding in orchid mantises. Current Biology - CB, 2024, 34 (1), pp.183-189.e4. ⟨10.1016/j.cub.2023.11.003⟩. ⟨hal-04483882⟩
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