The domestic cockroaches we know in North America were actually imported from the Old World. Over the past four centuries, they have hitched rides on ships crossing the Atlantic.
Cockroaches might be called living fossils: they first appeared 350 million years ago. They are the oldest and most primitive winged insects that have survived to the present day. The 3,500 existing species are basically identical to the very first forms of cockroaches that flourished in the Carboniferous Period.
Cockroaches are generally recognizable by their flattened, oval bodies, their heads concealed by a structure called the pronotum, and their very long, hairlike antennae.
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Insects are the best way of preserving life on our planet. Some 225 million years ago, hexapods were the first living creatures to breathe oxygen, walk on the ground and fly in the air. What’s more, some insects were so perfectly designed from Day One that they have remained virtually unchanged.
While showing us the wonderful panoramas of the great Venezuelan Savannah, entomologist Georges Brossard also reveals why and how insects have become the champions of evolution.
First of all, insects are time masters. They are the oldest animals. If conditions are not favourable, they can even enter into diapause, go into a dormancy state or stop time.
Since they are so small, insects have multiplied the available space around them. A leaf becomes a vast pasture, a tree a gigantic building. A single water drop quenches their thirst while a measly crumb of bread feeds them.
Insects can adapt to environmental changes thousands of times faster than us. During a human’s lifetime, simple aphids will produce 400 generations!
Nothing can illustrate their adaptability better than the discovery of insects at the top of Venezuela’s inaccessible tepuis, the tabletop mountains located in an isolated region of the country, on the south-eastern side of the Orinico River. Right in the middle of these inhospitable rock formations, Georges Brossard introduces us to a brand-new life form: an undersea grasshopper!
Humans have always been very good at creating myths and legends. Since the dawn of time, man has shared his garden, his house, even his bed, with insects. Not surprisingly, they have also invaded his imagination!
Entomologist Georges Brossard refers to the creation myths of several nations to tell us the story of the world’s creation, revised and updated by insects. According to these legends, the Earth was created by a spider, the ocean by a water strider and the stars by a beetle. As for butterflies, they gave humans the most marvellous gift of all: colours.
Because of their strange shape and behaviour, some insects, such as the mysterious praying-mantis, are automatically credited with magical powers. Other insects, whose stings are extremely painful, are used in cruel initiation rites… which Georges Brossard will experiment himself!
It is not always easy to scientifically explain the strange behaviour and the incomprehensible strength of insects. It is much easier, even for the modern man, to evoke their magical powers.