Preppy in Papua:This pink-and-green katydid, a large grasshopper, is one of 200 new species that scientists recently discovered in Papua New Guinea. About three inches long, it lives in the forest canopy of the rugged Muller Range in the central-western part of the country. Harvard University's Piotr Naskrecki, who found the katydid on an expedition for Conservation International, says it probably evolved its pink eyes as a form of camouflage. “Leaves in tropical forests are often dotted with fungi and epiphytes [plants that grow on other plants],” he says.
“Although these eyes may look striking to us, when the katydid sits motionless, they help with the illusion that it is just a leaf.” Fortunately, they didn't fool Naskrecki.
This article was originally published with the title "What Is It?" in Scientific American 303, 6, 27 (December 2010)
Anna Kuchment is a contributing editor at Scientific American and a staff science writer at the Dallas Morning News. Previously a reporter, writer and editor with Newsweek magazine, she is also author of The Forgotten Cure, which is about bacteriophage viruses and their potential as weapons against antibiotic resistance.