back to article Giant stick insect saved from extinction

A colossal stick insect, assumed extinct for 80 years, has been found in the wild, bred in captivity, and now has a population of over 700 awaiting possible repatriation. Dryococelus australis, commonly known as Tree Lobsters thanks to their tough carapace, are native to Lord Howe Island, a pacific speck belonging to Australia …


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  1. BlueGreen

    Heard about these before

    Have some really curious behaviour, from wiki "The males and females form a bond; the males follow the females and their activities depend on what the female is doing."

    To me this suggests basic emotion. If so - emotion in an *insect*? The possibility of that is fascinating.

    Just me?



    Righto. The one with an eHarmony for arthropods membership in the pocket.

    1. Muscleguy

      Re: Heard about these before

      Nah, it's mate tending. Making sure your genes are the only ones fertilising her eggs. Of course that is the base condition for pair bonding and if the males are motivated by a hormonal/neural signal that is likely to be a 'feeling'. Now ask if they are self aware enough to notice.

      The interesting thing is they pair bond but don't care for the offspring. This leaves mate tending as the only viable explanation for the practice.

      1. Miek

        Re: Heard about these before

        Sounds like he is following her around the dress shops.

  2. LaeMing

    Thank goodness

    Those things are delicious!

  3. icedfusion


    I only clicked to see a I have to search for one!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ....seriously...

      The NPR story - linked in this article - has pics of the beast.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: ....seriously...

      Not only no picture, the article doesn't even tell you how big the biggest insect is, which surely are the two things most _really_ want to know :)

      After having seen the photos... those must be tough rats.

  4. scarshapedstar



  5. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up

    "Our new Tree Lobster Overlords"

    Well they've got a great location for a secret base!

    1. LaeMing

      Re: "Our new Tree Lobster Overlords"

      Well, they *did* have.

      And they would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those pesky biologists!

      1. Muscleguy

        Re: "Our new Tree Lobster Overlords"

        Is it just me or do they resemble, at least while young, the aliens that live in the vertically challenged apartment in MIB II? or is it I? the one with Rosario Dawson, that one.

  6. Robert Heffernan

    Eratication Program

    Lord Howe Island needs to undertake an eratication program (see what I did there!) to wipe out the rat popuation and restore the natural balance, then reintroduce the tree lobster to it's old environment

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Eratication Program

      A rat eradication program is planned.

  7. JeffyPooh

    Maybe Cane Toads ?

    Just sayin'...

  8. James O'Brien

    pass the mind bleach please

    For some reason after reading this article I had the image of a biologist "milking" one of these....

    Just ewwww

  9. Citizen Kaned


    they have a similar gene pool to those people living in norfolk. j/k

    700 from 4? surely more were needed else you just end up with heavily selected breeding.

    1. Just Thinking

      Re: so....

      2 of the 4 died, according to the linked article, so its worse than that.

      This species effectively became extinct aeons ago when new preditors evolved, rats and probably many others. A tiny population survived on a small, totally isolated island, as a throwback to prehistoric times.

      Fair enough trying to breed them to study them, but it is difficult to see how they will survive in the wild. Their time has been and gone. I don't think you can blame evil humanity for this one, it is just evolution.

      1. Anonymous Cowerd

        @Just Thinking

        No, you're not.

        Evil humanity is to blame for introducing a non-indigenous predator (namely the rat) to an ecosystem where it did not previously exist.

        1. Just Thinking

          Re: @Just Thinking

          What I am saying is that they are already as good as extinct for reasons which probably don't have anything to do with us. They aren't exactly bristling with defence mechanisms, so when they encounter any creature which enjoys eating crunchy insects, they have pretty much had it. Could just as easily have been migrating birds as imported rats. Presumably they evolved before this was so much of a problem.

          They are nearly extinct because they aren't viable. Yes human intervention has made it a bit awkward for the only remaining population on a tiny remote island, but that population only existed through pure fluke.

      2. ToddRundgren

        Re: so....

        No its humans landing ships on remote islands, (Lord Howe was an Admiral, just prior to Nelson), which had rats on them. Rats infest the isalnd and wipe out the indigenous species. Nothing at all to do with evolution.

        1. Audrey S. Thackeray

          Re: so....

          Evolution isn't some moral process that is being subverted there - so the rats came on ships and the ships were built & sailed by people but the rats might have been birds and the birds might have been blown by freak winds, it's not relevant (in evolutionary terms - we might choose to consider ourselves to have done something wrong but we haven't sinned against evolution).

          There has been a change in their environment that they are not equipped to cope with and they have died out - that's (a part of) evolution.

  10. Stuart Elliott


    OMG, they're huge freaking bugs, let them die off, for pete's sake!

    I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      Just so you know... Starship Troopers and reality are not quite the same thing...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a spectacular island, about 1500 feet long by only 400 feet wide yet 1,844 ft high! All insects are a bit creepy, can't say I'd want them put back in my back yard, needs must, hope they sort the rats out.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe it's just me, but...

    They don't look much like sticks.

    1. Just Thinking

      Re: Maybe it's just me, but...

      Everything is a stick to an Australian. Their equivalent of a noun is adjective-stick (razor=shaving stick etc).

  13. Anonymous Cowerd


    is one beautiful insect.

  14. George Nacht

    Tree lobster...

    ...and everyone here resisted temptation to make some reference to tree octopus.

    I am proud of my fellow commenters.

    On another note, it is refreshing to hear about saved species for once. No chance of finding a pair of Queensland wolves somewhere? After all, they are pronounced extincs only since 1937.

    1. ToddRundgren

      Re: Tree lobster...

      I think you mean the Thylacine or "Tasmanian" wolf?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tree lobster...

      Don't forget those toads that were hiding in trees rather than the ground where people were looking for them.

  15. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

    I saw the pics...

    And I'm sure that God, Odin, Buddha o whoever may be, INTENDED to disappear that damned things from Earth.

    We humans should finish the work, not try to save them...

  16. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Perhaps we should equip them


    That'll show the rats!

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