Researchers to an expedition to the rainforest in the Southern Peruvian Amazon have spotted, what appears to be a mysterious new cocoon. The cocoon is unlike anything biologists have seen upon before, strongly suggesting a hitherto undiscovered new species.
The exotic cocoon features a central spire, like a maypole, encircled by a picket fence that's been reinforced by horizontal rails. The entire structure – tent and fence – is strung together by a series of radially oriented wires. Resembling Harold "Doc" Edgerton’s famous milk drop, the structure measures less than 2 cm across.
Whatever is hatching, appears to be located inside the tent and fence is there to protect the cocoon from predatory crawlers, such as ants.
Troy Alexander from Rainforest Expedition who spotted this the bizarre creation posted a photograph of his discovery to /r/whatsthisbug, a subreddit devoted to identifying insects and their handiwork.
"I posted one of these once before and got no answers, but at the time I'd only seen one and suggested that it might be an aborted start of a urodid moth cocoon," he wrote. "I subsequently saw a few more, and they always looked like this, and no more. I assume there are eggs in the base of the maypole in the middle of the horse corral, though it might be something pupating. Please, any ideas?"
“I've shared this with several entomologists now without a certain ID. My favorite theory: there are spider eggs in the base of the pole, and the spiderlings climb the pole and sail away on silken parachutes, protected by the fence the whole time.”