Giant Land Lobster Not Extinct…. yet!

7 January, 2010

Excerpt from original article found at NewScientist.com. Find the full article and much more information there.

15 July 2006 by Stephanie Pain


On 14 June 1918, the supply ship Makambo struck a submerged rock off Lord Howe Island, a volcanic dot 780 kilometres north-east of Sydney, Australia. The cargo was salvaged and taken ashore to the island, which is a semi-tropical paradise, lushly forested and rich in plants and animals found nowhere else. Unfortunately, the ship’s rats came ashore too. They spread rapidly, soon dispatching several island species, including a giant wingless stick insect, or phasmid. By the 1930s, the Lord Howe Island phasmid (Dryococelus australis) was written off as extinct.

By all accounts, it had been a spectacular insect, so big the islanders called it the land lobster. Females grew up to 15 centimetres long, with bodies as thick as a finger and long, stout legs equipped with hooks. The slightly shorter males had peculiarly massive thighs armed with evil-looking spines. They couldn’t fly but they could run surprisingly fast.[...]

[...]

However, in 1964, a rock climber found a dead phasmid, not on Lord Howe Island but on Balls Pyramid, a remote spire of rock 24 kilometres to the south-east. Another climber found two more dead phasmids there in 1969, one lodged in a bush, the other as part of a seabird’s nest – a stick insect mistaken for a stick. Was the giant phasmid alive and well and living somewhere on Balls Pyramid? It seemed improbable. This was a creature of warm, damp forests that needed living trees with sizeable hollows to hide in. Balls Pyramid is the world’s highest sea stack, its sheer cliffs rising 550 metres. Isolated, exposed to high winds and with no apparent water supply, the islet has just a few scraps of vegetation and no trees. To everyone’s disappointment but no one’s surprise, every expedition that went in search of giant phasmids drew a blank.

This article from NewScientist is a must-read! A great recount of a fascinating story…
Long Live the Phasmids!

What tipped me off to Land Lobsters?  The Tree Lobsters! comic.  Science geeks beware- there’s hilarity afoot!  Don’t miss the secret messages under each comic.

And the Bug Girl’s Blog.


1,068 Species Discovered in South East Asia!

1 April, 2009

The incredibly pink Dragon Millipede is able to shoot cyanide.

millipede

It’s one of over a thousand species found in the Greater Mekong in the past 10 years- that’s an average of 2 new species found per week for 10 years!

Find more info at WWF online!


HUNDREDS of New Species Found off Tasmania

25 November, 2008

From National Geographic.com:

7_australianewspecies_461
“A new species of Plesionika shrimp probably won’t be thrown on the barbie anytime soon. That’s because it was found living at depths of 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) off the coast of Tasmania, researchers announced in October 2008.

An Australian survey team found the shrimp–along with hundreds of new species of corals, starfish, sponges, shrimps, and crabs–within a network of marine reserves.

The latest discovery “shows us there’s so much out there that we don’t know” said Justin Marshall, a marine scientist at the University of Queensland who was not part of the survey team. “We may be destroying habitat before we even know what’s there, so we need to describe it before it’s gone.”

—Photograph courtesy CSIRO

For more images, and to read the rest of the information available, visit National Geographic.


Newly Discovered Moth is a Sculptor!

23 November, 2008

Researchers have discovered a new species of Bagworm Moth that wraps its eggs individually in “beautiful cases” fashioned from its golden abdominal hairs, according to a new paper published in the Annals of the Entomology Society of America. The behavior is unique among insects.

“We were mystified when we found a bizarre bag-like structure, about 12 mm long, studded with fragments of other insects, and containing a live insect larva,” said Diomedes Quintero, a professor of biology at the University of Panama who collected the larvae.


Parasite Turns Ant into Bird Bait

18 January, 2008
From an original article
posted at Physorg.com

ant.jpg
“When the ant Cephalotes atratus is infected with a parasitic nematode, its normally black abdomen turns red, resembling the many red berries in the tropical forest canopy. According to researchers, this is a strategy concocted by nematodes to entice birds to eat the normally unpalatable ant and spread the parasite in their droppings. (Steve Yanoviak/University of Arkansas)

Read the full article at Physorg.com


Found: Giant Lobster Species!

26 July, 2007
4kglobsters.jpgNovember 2006
From an article at
Science in Africa:

“South African Marine biologist Professor Charles Griffith from the University of Cape Town has chalked up the discovery of over 100 new species in his career. These include a new genus of freshwater shrimp, Mathamelita, named after his son Matthew, and a new family of seaslugs, Lemindidae named by his wife after their daughter Melinda – indeed a real family affair! His most recent find is larger meat though: a new giant species of spiny lobster, Palinurus barbarae (Decapoda Palinuridae) from Walters Shoals on the Madagascar Ridge.

Only three new lobster species have been identified in the past 12 years, worldwide. These beauties weigh in at up to 4kgs [*] and were discovered accidentally, when a Spanish fishing vessel working in the Indian Ocean docked in Durban and applied for a permit to export their lobster catch to Europe. …”  continued…

*some sites have reported the lobsters weigh “1kg, or 4lbs”- which is incorrect anyway (1kg=2.2lbs approx), but the Census of Marine Life website lists them as 4kg, so I am trusting their data.

Found! 500 Species: “Extremophiles” and Living Fossils

26 July, 2007
May 19, 2006

A host of record-breaking discoveries and revelations that stretch the extreme frontiers of marine knowledge were achieved by the Census of Marine Life in 2006, highlights of which were released today.

They include life adapted to brutal conditions around 407°C fluids spewing from a seafloor vent (the hottest ever discovered), a mighty microbe 1 cm in diameter, mysterious 1.8 kg (4 lb) lobsters off the Madagascar coast, a US school of fish the size of Manhattan Island, and more unfamiliar than familiar species turned up beneath 700 meters of Antarctic ice.

Below are some pics and brief descriptions of a few of the discoveries. Visit Census of Marine Life’s website to find out more about the creatures!

Find an excellent article with lots of info at EurekAlert.
Read another article at Times Online.

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jurassic-shrimp.jpg

“A “Jurassic” shrimp, Neoglyphea neocaledonica, believed extinct for 50 million years, found in the Coral Sea. Credit: B. Richer de Forges ©2006″

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jellyfish.jpg

“Antarctic Jellyfish: this species was filmed in Antarctic waters that have been kept in darkness for thousands of years by thick ice cover. …”

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mar-ecosquid.jpg

A new species of squid, Promachoteuthis sloani, found along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Credit: MAR-ECO/R. Young”

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