The thing that you are looking at is a Brazilian treehopper. More specifically, a model of a Brazilian treehopper, the Bocydium globulare. Yeah, this particular picture is just a sculpture, but trust: This bug is real. The blog Why Evolution is True puts it best: “If Dali invented insects, they’d look like these.”

Why Evolution Is True also answers the question that you are thinking right now:

“What the bloody hell is all that ornamentation on the thorax?” (Note that the “balls” on the antenna-like structure aren’t eyes, but simply spheres of chitin.)  A first guess is that it’s a sexually-selected trait, but those are often limited to males, and these creatures (and the ones below) show the ornaments in both sexes.  Kemp hypothesizes—and this seems quite reasonable—that “the hollow globes, like the remarkable excrescences exhibited by other treehoppers, probably deter predators.”  It would be hard to grab, much less chow down on, a beast with all those spines and excrescences.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Seriously. Would you eat this guy? I would not try.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!