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Mon Mar 5, 2012, 11:29 PM

Six-Legged Giant Finds Secret Hideaway, Hides For 80 Years

On Lord Howe, there used to be an insect, famous for being big. It's a stick insect, a critter that masquerades as a piece of wood, and the Lord Howe Island version was so large as big as a human hand that the Europeans labeled it a "tree lobster" because of its size and hard, lobsterlike exoskeleton. It was 12 centimeters long and the heaviest flightless stick insect in the world. Local fishermen used to put them on fishing hooks and use them as bait.

Patrick Honan holds two of the rare Lord Howe Island stick insects.

Then one day in 1918, a supply ship, the S.S. Makambo from Britain, ran aground at Lord Howe Island and had to be evacuated. One passenger drowned. The rest were put ashore. It took nine days to repair the Makambo, and during that time, some black rats managed to get from the ship to the island, where they instantly discovered a delicious new rat food: giant stick insects. Two years later, the rats were everywhere and the tree lobsters were gone.

Totally gone. After 1920, there wasn't a single sighting. By 1960, the Lord Howe stick insect, Dryococelus australis, was presumed extinct.

There was a rumor, though.
More: http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2012/02/24/147367644/six-legged-giant-finds-secret-hideaway-hides-for-80-years?ps=cprs

It's almost heartwarming.

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Reply Six-Legged Giant Finds Secret Hideaway, Hides For 80 Years (Original post)
csziggy Mar 2012 OP
Curmudgeoness Mar 2012 #1
chit_hart Mar 2012 #2

Response to csziggy (Original post)

Tue Mar 6, 2012, 08:01 PM

1. That should have come with a warning!!!

"Do not look if you are grossed out by insects!" Agh, humungous insects freak me out!

But besides the picture, I am very glad to hear that this species survived.

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Response to csziggy (Original post)

Wed Mar 7, 2012, 08:11 AM

2. what a lucky find !

what a great story and a very timely find for the continuation of a very impressive creature... love the fact that they pair up and sleep together with 3 of his legs protecting her ! wish them all the best for the future and hope they can be re-introduced somewhere without rats x well done to the conservationist for rearing them all successfully from one sick mum.

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