The word “mantis” is of Greek origin, meaning prophet, or diviner. At some point in time the word was linked to an insect of distinct appearance, an insect whose aspect is that of constant prayer or absolution: The Praying Mantis. The name should have been “Preying Mantis” because this meditative pose is assumed as the mantis hunts for food. Its forelegs, modified into killing claws armed with spikes, are unique in form and define members of the order Mantodea. Sharing many similarities with cockroaches, perhaps even evolving from them (historical records are poor and the earliest known fossil mantis dates back only about 36-25 million years, from the Oligocene period), the mantids became distinct by exhibiting entirely carnivorous behavior. Fearless hunters, they possess excellent eyesight and are keenly aware of their surroundings, actively pursuing or ambushing their prey. Since they spend most of their time stalking potential quarry on foliage, many species mimic leaves, bark, twigs and flowers. Those mantids that inhabit arid lands and hunt on the ground will often mimic stones.