Body length (0.92 m = 36.22 in = 3 ft 0.22 in)
Standing height (0.63 m = 24.61 in = 2 feet 0.61 in)
Head anterior-posterior length (0.21 m = 8.27 in)
Head width (0.18 m = 6.89 in)
Tip of mouthparts to top of head capsule (0.25 m = 9.84
Head capsule height (0.18 m = 6.89 in)
Thorax anterior-posterior length (0.51 m = 20.08 in =1 ft
Width of thorax (0.51 m = 20.08 in = 1.67 ft)
Abdomen length (0.2 m = 7.87 in)
Wingtip to midline of head (2.1 m = 82.68 in = 6 feet 10.68
Wing width, widest (0.75 m = 29.53 in = 2 ft 5.53 in)
Wingspan (2 x 82.68 in = 165.35 in = 13 ft 9.35 in)
Last year I presented a poster describing evidence of higher life forms in NASA/JPL
rover photographs relayed to Earth from Mars. In this poster, I focus solely on evidence
of extant insect-like organisms on Mars and include significant new material.
Evidence to be presented supports the presence of extant insect-like ("insectoid") forms
on Mars; the ability of these to walk, run, glide, and fly; the occurrence of sheltering/
nesting behavior; and the presence of immature forms.
Among the apparent diversity of organic forms that can be seen in the rover photos,
there are two particularly common insect-like types, a relatively smaller "bee-like" (in the
Earth sense) form, and a larger form. These are not necessarily insects in the Earth
sense and do not necessarily represent discrete taxa, but within each group they are
very similar. For convenience the Martian forms will be referred to as "bee-like
insectoid" and "large insectoid".
Critics of this research reject the possibility of higher life forms on Mars largely because,
according to NASA, the conditions are simply too harsh to support higher life forms, and
because NASA has not acknowledged their presence. Neither of these reasons should
prevent an established scientist from presenting evidence to the contrary.
MATERIALS & METHODS
CONCLUSIONS & DISCUSSION
Evidence of Extant Insect-Like Organisms on Mars
William S. Romoser, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Ohio University
Figure 5. "Large" insectoids. A, Lying on right side. Major body regions labeled. B.
Frontal view showing head and other features.
Figure 9. "Large" insectoid running (head turned to insectoid's left). Key body
parts, legs and wings labelled.
Figure 11. "Large" insectoids gliding/flying. A, Flight of a putatively single individual from left to
right indicated by arrow. B, Flight is from right to left and the arrows indicate successive
positions. Note the shadows which are consistent with an organism in flight.
Figure 8. Fortuitously, in one of the panoramas. the planes of a two meter scale and a "large"
insectoid are close enough together to facilitate meaningful estimates of various body dimensions.
Initial measurements taken from this specimen then facilitated measurement of additional body
dimensions from other specimens. In all figures m = meter, ft = feet; in = inches. Structures
measured in this specimen: A. Right wing indicated by red arrows. B. Frontal view of body. The
actual head associated with the labelled wing is closer to and obfuscated by the meter scale line.
C. A crude estimation of wing venation and wing cells. Characteristic wing spot indicated by the
Figure 7. Comparison of Martian insectoid leg & generalized Earth insect leg. A. Leg segments. B.
Detailed structure of the metathorax (mesepimeron), coxa, & trochanter. Drawings from Romoser &
TYPES. During the course of this study, I have observed a number of apparently different insectoid types in the NASA/
JPL rover photos. Among these, two have stood out, a "bee-like" form (Fig. 3) and a "large" form (Fig. 4). These two
types are the focus of this poster. Individuals representing each of these types are described here. No discrete taxa are
implied, and either or both groups could include multiple types. It should also be noted that Martian insectoids are not
necessarily insects in the Earth sense, though they could be.
STRUCTURE. The following fundamental insectan structures can be identified in Martian insectoids (Figs. 3-9): (1) three
body regions — head, thorax, abdomen; (2) eyes, antennae, & mouthparts on the head; and (3) wings & legs on the
thorax. In some images, particularly those of the "large" type (Figs. 4-8), anatomical details are visible at much finer level
allowing recognition of details such as three fundamental thoracic segments, sutures, intersegmental lines, and wing
veins and cells (Figs. 6-8). Comparison of the segmentation of generalized cursorial leg of an Earth insectoid with the
hindleg of the large insectoid on Mars yields extraordinary results, that is the segmentation is essentially identical (Fig. 7).
The legs of "large" insectoids display interesting adaptations (Fig. 5-7). The forelegs are somewhat directed anteriorly
and the pretarsi look like they are composed multiple digits (Fig. 6). The midlegs appear shorter and stouter with a more-
or-less fan-shaped pretarsus. Their position and form are suggestive of a carrying function, as if they could grasp
something against their body and carry it while running/gliding or in flight. They also appear to be foldable dorsally and
placed against the pleuron when not in use (Fig. 5). The hindlegs are comparatively long, directed posteriorly, and distally
the pretarsus appears somewhat pad-like. The length and position of the hindlegs is consistent with the frequent
episodes of running displayed by these insectoids. At times, it appears as if they are essentially bipedal, using only the
hindlegs for propulsion. The comparatively large hindleg pretarsi appear to facilitate rapid running over the variable
SIZE. A fortuitous juxtaposition of elements (scale line & "large" insectoid; Fig. 8) in one of the NASA/JPL's
panoramic mosaics provides an opportunity to obtain rough estimates of several body dimensions, including wing
length & width, head width & height, and wing span. These measurements taken directly from the individual in the
photo facilitated scaling in images of other "large" insectoids in different postures, thereby allowing estimates of
structures not available for measurement in the original specimen in Fig. 8. The results of are shown in Table 1.
This poster is based on my project which involves the analysis and interpretation of
NASA/JPL Mars surface rover photographs. The focus of this project is reflected in the
title of my Facebook blog site: "Mars & Earth - Partners in Time?. The operating
hypothesis of the biological portion of this project is: "There are fossilized and extant
higher life forms on Mars, including insect/arthropod-like and reptile-like organisms."
During the 2019 ESA meeting, I presented a poster entitled: "Does Insect/Arthropod
Biodiversity Extend Beyond Earth". A copy of this poster and supplemental material can
be found on my researchgate.net page: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/
Among criteria useful in identifying and describing higher organic forms in NASA/JPL
rover photos are the following: detectable form in contrast with the surroundings, body
symmetry, segmentation of body, segmentation of appendages, and observation of
closely similar forms in proximity to one another. Particular postures, evidence of motion,
apparent interaction as suggested by relative positions are consistent with the presence
of living forms. Once a clear image of a given type is found and described, it then
facilitates recognition of other less clear, but none-the-less valid, images of same basic
form. So the actual sample sizes of types are larger than implied by the images
A major factor in recognizing Martian insectoids is awareness that they are typically in
motion, sometimes partially hidden, and often occur in groups where the image of one
individual may interfere with the image of another. Obfuscation (circumstantial or
purposeful) and poor resolution can also be problems.
Insects typically have an overall “Gestalt” which makes them identifiable by an
experienced eye. Even in flying forms, one can often identify the order of an insect by
its overall appearance and behavior in flight. Consider a house fly, a dragonfly, and a
butterfly which most persons can readily differentiate in flight.
RUNNING & FLIGHT SIGNATURES. "Running & flight signatures” associated with
rapid movements of body parts relative to one another, or of entire bodies moving
through space include the following: (1) a blurred streak where a body part (e.g. the
head) or appendage moves, often with more than one positional view of the structure in
question; (2) a zone of blurring surrounding the body due to rapid wing movement; (3)
somewhat blurry lines that radiate out from the body during flight; (4) wing cycle (stroke,
Fig. 1) patterns revealed by pigment spots or light reflective regions on the wings distal
to the body; and (5) flight paths as indicated by multiple, sequential whole and partial
images of the same individual as it moves through space (Fig. 2).
Figure 1. Various stroke patterns displayed by insect wings. From: Lehman & Pick (2007).
Wing spots or wing surface reflections would be seen in these patterns.
Figure 2. Flight or running paths of individuals appear as if they were captured in
sequential positions by a strobe light (Fig. 1A), but in the case of Martian insectoids,
multiple images of the same individual are often captured due to both the camera
and insectoid moving. If the insectoid is flying at an angle to the plane of the
camera lens, the body size appears to go from smaller or larger, or vice versa, in
the direction of flight. This effect can be seen in Figure 1B which is a panning shot
of a skier gliding by the camera. Note that the individual images vary from nearly
complete to fragmentary. This phenomenon can be clearly seen in NASA/JPL rover
photos. (A, public domain; B, original photo)
Table 1. Estimated body & appendage
dimensions of "large" insectoid.
Realizing this poster and the one that preceded it in in November, 2019 are both controversial, my
sincere appreciation to the ESA program committee for continuing to allowing evidence of metazoan
life on Mars to be presented in a professional scientific forum.
My appreciation to NASA/JPL Mars science projects, for making photos available to the public and
accomplishing great feats of space travel, and the United States public citizens who have paid for
these “great feats of space travel”.
Mars rover photos courtesy of NASA/JPL.
Figure 4. "Large" insectoids. A-C , Running with wings outspread (lateral view); A, May be gliding or initiating
flight. D & E, Running with wings outspread (frontal view). F. Standing on substrate (lateral view)
Figure 6. "Large" insectoid can be interpreted on the basis of Earth insect anatomy. Same
specimen as in Fig. 4F; image of form isolated using erasure software.
The specific hypothesis addressed in this poster is: There are extant insect-like
forms present on Mars.
Figure 10."Large" insectoid running and transitioning to gliding/flying. A-C, successively
higher magnification. A, Individual running from right to left in the upper part demarcated
by red curving arrows, turning and running from left to right within the confines of the
arrows and at an angle to the camera; B & C, Transition from run to glide/fly (1, still
running; 2, lifting legs; 3, full glide/flight).
The focus of this poster has been to present evidence of living insect-like forms or “insectoids” on
Mars. Collectively, the material included supports the hypothesis posed in the introduction, that is
"there are extant insect-like forms on Mars”.
Though aspects of any given image may be debatable, consistency of form, the numerous images of
individuals representing each of the two common types, evidence of movement, observation of
apparent immature forms, and sheltering/nesting behavior taken together is compelling.
Multiple examples of two common, but different insectoid types, "bee-like" and "large" are presented.
Since the “large” insectoids are often seen running over significant distances, I will refer to them as
“runners” henceforth. Gross insectan structural traits are clearly visible in both insectoid types. In
some images of the runners, surprising structural detail can be discerned in the thorax and legs.
This structural detail is amenable to labeling as if the insectoid was an Earth insect. Moreover, there
is clear evidence of locomotor activity and sheltering/nesting behavior.
Assuming the requirements for life on earth prevail elsewhere in the cosmos, the occurrence of
extant insect-like organisms would imply the presence of other organisms, nutrient/energy sources
and processes, food chains and webs, sufficient oxygen, and available water.
In regard to other organisms, I have observed other likely insectoid types as well as reptile-like forms
or “reptoids” (Romoser, 2019). Levin & Straat (2016) assert that evidence for microbial life on the
Martian surface was detected during the 1976 Viking lander mission. The Mars Exploration Program
Analysis Group (Rummel, Beaty, Jones et al., 2014) reviewed and updated the assessments of an
earlier group in regard to the existence on Mars of “Special Regions” (regions where terrestrial
organisms might replicate) and stated: “Significant changes in our knowledge of the capabilities of
terrestrial organisms and the existence of possibly habitable martian environments have led to a new
appreciation of where Mars Special Regions may be identified and protected.” Recently, the question
of evidence of both prokaryotic and eukaryotic life forms on Mars, including what could be viewed as
potential nutrient sources for insectoids, is addressed in a review article (Joseph, Dass, Rizzo et al.,
Water, in one form or another, has been reported a number of times (Rothschild and Mancinelli,
2001), including surface water detected by instrumentation on Viking, Pathfinder, Phoenix and
Curiosity (Levin, 2019). Subglacial water bodies have also been identified on Mars (Lauro, Pettinelli,
Caprarelli et al. 2020). During my studies I have observed instances in rover photographs
suggestive of standing water or small water courses on Mars (link).
The findings presented here are in dramatic contrast with the official position of NASA which
continues to deny even the existence of unequivocal chemical bio-signatures, that is, signs of life on
Mars. I find it extremely difficult to believe that at least a few NASA/JPL individuals or units are not
aware of the organisms I have described. Accordingly, I continue to view my project as replicative
Evidence of extant life forms on Mars raises many important biological, social (Lupisella, M. 1999),
and political questions. Acceptance of the existence of life beyond Earth can be expected to impact
essentially every aspect of human life, past and present.
Evidence for living forms on Mars is salient to the discussions of the possibility of panspermia
(Crick, 1981; Kaufman, 2017).
For additional examples and discussion of the kinds of material presented in this poster, see my
Researchgate site (https://www.researchgate.net/profile/William_Romoser2), Tumblr (https://
romoser-entomologist.tumblr.com, and Facebook: Mars & Earth—Partners in Time?
Aerts, JW, Rolin, WFM, Elsaesser, A, and Ehrenfreund, P. 2014. Biota and Biomolecules in Extreme
Environments on Earth: Implications for Life Detection on Mars. Life 4, 535-565.
Crick, F. 1981. Life Itself, Its Origin and Nature. Simon & Schuster.
Joseph, RG, Dass, RS, Rizzo et al. 2019. Evidence of Life on Mars? Journal of Astrobiology and Space Science
Reviews, Vol 1, 40-81.
Kaufman, M. 2017. In Search of Panspermia. Astrobiology at NASA.
Lauro, S.E., Pettinelli, E., Caprarelli, G. et al. 2020. Multiple subglacial water bodies below the south pole of Mars
unveiled by new MARSIS data. Nat Astron. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-020-1200-6
Lehmann, F & Pick, S. 2007. The aerodynamic benefit of wing-wing interaction depends on stroke trajectory in
flapping insect wings. J. Experimental Biology 210:1362-1377.
Levin, G. & Straat, P.A. 2016. The Case for Extant Life on Mars and its Possible Detection by the Viking Labeled
Release Experiment. Astrobiology 16(10):798-810.
Lupisella, M. 1999. NASA Workshop Report on the Societal Implications of Astrobiology.
Romoser, WS & Stoffolano, JG. 1998. The Science of Entomology, 4th ed. WCB McGraw-Hill, Dubuque.
Romoser, WS. 2019. Does Insect/Arthropod Biodiversity Extend Beyond Earth? Poster presented to the
Entomological Society of America, St. Louis, MO.
Rothschild LJ, Mancinelli, RL. 2001. Life in extreme environments. Nature 409:1092-1101.
Rummel, JD, Beaty, DW, Jones, MA et al. 2014. A New Analysis of Mars “Special Regions”. Astrobiology, 14(11).
RUNNING, GLIDING, FLYING. The bee-like forms appear to emphasize flight (Fig. 3), while the "large" insectoids
appear to emphasize what looks like bipedal running (Figs. 9 & 10), but are sometimes seen gliding and/or flying
(Figs. 10 & 11).
IMMATURE "LARGE" INSECTOID. The specimen in Fig. 12 looks like it could be an immature form since its overall
form resembles a "large" insectoid, and it appears to have developing appendages.
Figure 12. Immature "large" insectoid. A. By shelter, nest, entrance to underground? B. Region in
A indicated by asterisks enlarged, lightened and turned 90o counter clockwise. C. Structures
labelled. Compare this putatively developing form with the specimens in Figs. 5 & 6.
Figure 3. "Bee-like insectoids. A-F, Bee-like individuals in flight. Individuals and flight paths indicated in red. E.
Note shadow which indicates separation from rock face, that is flight. G, Individuals congregated at entrance to
putative nest. White arrows indicate individual insectoids.
URLs of images available upon request. See also Facebook page: "Mars & Earth--Partners in Time?"