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Mantophasmatodea (Heelwalkers): fossils

The extinct species (Rhaptophasma kerneggeri) is preserved in 45 million year old Baltic amber from the Eocene epoch. Baltic amber originates from forests that once covered an area encompassing the Baltic Sea and Scandanavian Peninsula suggesting that Mantophasmatodea used to be far more widespread in distribution than they are today. Current locality records, which are centred in the extreme south-western part of Africa, together with the fact that heelwalkers have not yet been discovered in well-studied areas such as North America, Europe and Australia, indicates that the extant species are representatives of a small relictual order with a very restricted distribution. Mantophasmatodea are likely to have been around for much longer than 45 million years, since fossils of sister groups such as the Orthoptera have been dated back to the Carboniferous period (296-354 million years ago).


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Web page development and text by Simon van Noort (Iziko South African Museum) and Mike Picker (University of Cape Town).

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