A mysterious ancient petroglyph depicting a man-praying mantis found in Iran

An ancient petroglyph painted on a rock was discovered in the vicinity of the Iranian village of Sarcobi by a group of scientists from Taiwan and Iran during an expedition in 2017-2018. The 11 x 14 cm image resembles a praying mantis in a protective pose - an extremely uncharacteristic motif for petroglyphs.

According to scientists, the image is between 4, 000 and 40, 000 years old. This wide spread is due to the impossibility of radiocarbon dating due to the geopolitical sanctions imposed on Iran.

An important fragment of the petroglyph - a triangular head - makes it look like a praying mantis of the Empusidae family. It is possible that the depicted triangle is not the head at all, but the pronotum (the upper semicircle of the first segment of the insect's breast - Tekhkult's comment). In this case, we have a relative of the praying mantis, belonging to the long-extinct species Idolomantis, inhabiting the territory of prehistoric Iran.

Some peoples of the ancient East endowed praying mantises with mystical properties, considering them to be intermediaries between the earthly and otherworldly worlds. So, in the Egyptian "Book of the Dead" they appear as guides to the afterlife, and on ancient pictograms found in South Africa, scientists find images of demihumans, demihumans.