[Daily article] April 19: Mantis

The mantises are an order of insects containing over 2,400 species and
about 430 genera in 15 families. The largest family is the Mantidae.
Distributed worldwide in temperate and tropical habitats, mantids have
triangular heads with bulging eyes supported on flexible necks, and
elongated bodies with or without wings. All mantises have greatly
enlarged forelegs adapted for catching and gripping prey; their
stationary upright posture, with forearms folded, has led to the common
name “praying mantis”. They are mostly ambush predators, but a few
ground-dwelling species actively seek prey. They live for about a year;
in cooler climates, the adults lay eggs in autumn, and die. Protected by
their hard capsule, the eggs hatch in the spring. Mantises are sometimes
confused with stick insects (Phasmatodea), other elongated insects such
as grasshoppers (Orthoptera), or other insects with raptorial forelegs
such as mantisflies (Mantispidae). Mantises were considered to have
supernatural powers by early civilizations, including Ancient Greece,
Ancient Egypt, and Assyria. They are among the insects most commonly
kept as pets.

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Today’s selected anniversaries:

797:

Byzantine emperor Constantine VI was captured, blinded, and
imprisoned by the supporters of his mother Irene.

1713:

With no living male heirs, Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI issued
the Pragmatic Sanction to ensure one of his daughters would inherit the
Habsburg lands.

1861:

American Civil War: The first bloodshed of the war took place
when Confederate sympathizers in Baltimore, Maryland, attacked members
of the Massachusetts militia en route to Washington, D.C.

1943:

The Holocaust: Nazi troops entered the Warsaw Ghetto to round
up the remaining Jews, sparking the first mass uprising in Poland
against the German occupation.

1989:

A gun turret on board the United States Navy battleship Iowa
exploded, killing 47 sailors.

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Wiktionary’s word of the day:

sgraffito:
(art) A technique in ceramics, art and wall design, where the top layer
of pigment or slip is scratched through to reveal an underlying layer.

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Wikiquote quote of the day:

  Of justice yet must God in fine restore, This noble crowne unto
the lawful heire For right will alwayes live, and rise at length, But
wrong can never take deepe roote to last.  
–Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset

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