Saturday, March 10, 2012

Return of the Tree Lobster

Dryococelus australis
I came across the back story of the "rarest insect in the world" on NPR, described by Robert Krulwich as only he can.  It is a fascinating story: the largest flightless stick insect in the world, is found only on Lord Howe Island in the South Pacific.  Rats escape from a ship wreck and wipe out the insects which are considered extinct for 80+ years. 

Then in an unlikely twist, a tiny colony of 24 insects is found on Ball's Pyramid, an 1,800 foot rocky spike of an island in the Pacific.  Two pair are brought to the lab and the last remaining female is starting to lay eggs when she sickens and nears death.  She is saved by an experimental meal of calcium and nectar and Jane Goodall reports in 2008 that there are now over 700 in captivity.

I would highly recommend the NPR story, described by Robert Krulwich as only he can.  It has mystery, violence, romance, sex and a happy ending.  The more mundane details of the Lord Howe Island stick insect, a.k.a. tree lobster, Dryococelus australis are found in Wikipedia


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