Thursday, May 20, 2010

Jumping bristletail

Ever wonder what turns a Master Naturalist on?  Chapter members who came early for the Rotten Log presentation were excited to find one of the oldest and least evolved animals on the planet.  No, I am not referring to chronologically advanced members, but to the Jumping Bristletail  we found within the log.
These primative creatures evolved in the Devonian period according to Wikipedia.  At that time over 350 million years ago, fish were first developing legs and huge seed-bearing plants were starting to cover the supercontinent of Gondwana.  Since they feed on algae and mosses and are usually found in leaf litter and decayed vegetation, the abundance of forest must have provided a great niche for them to prosper.
According to UC Berkeley Biokeys, they do not have wings, they have long segmented antennae, and they have 3 cerci coming out of the end of the abdomen.  ((Our friend modestly held them closely together for the picture)  Jumping bristletails can spring up into the air as much as 10 centimeters by flexing their abdomens as we discovered while getting the picture.
I am happy to say he is back in his rotted log with a story to tell his sow bug and millipede neighbors .

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