These photos represent an awesome mystery, a whole new wing of Department of Awesome Natural Wonders. They were taken in the Amazon rainforest in Peru by a graduate student named Troy Alexander and we think they look like something you might find on the asteroid where The Little Prince lives.
Troy was in South America working on a parrot biology and conservation project called the Tambopata Macaw Project when he began noticing these remarkable and puzzling structures on tree trunks. Some sort of animal had constructed a delicate barrier around its newly-laid egg sac that looks just like a white picket fence. These structures appear to have been constructed by a spider or insect, but so far no one has been able to say for sure. They are completely new to science.
Though he had no idea what built it, he snapped a few photos, hoping that when he got home an entomologist would help him zero in on the moth or spider responsible and that would be the end of the story.
Weeks after his return, Alexander hoped for a quick ID by posting a photos to Reddit’s popular “whatsthisbug” subreddit where biologists and experts in both insects and arachnids were all stumped. He says the photos have now been viewed “by the professional entomologists moderating Whatsthisbug, but also entomologists at Cal Tech, Georgia Tech, Rice University, the Smithsonian Institute, and more… [but] still no definite confirmation.” Some suspect that it could be something similar to the
Ribbed-Cocoon Maker Moth which also builds a protective structure, but nothing so distinct as this fence.
Head over to Colossal to view more of Troy’s photos.