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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“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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Two New Species Survived Iceland’s Ice Age

19 July, 2007

icelandshrimp.jpgScientists at Holar University College and the University of Iceland have discovered two species of groundwater amphipods (one of which is in its own family). These are currently the only species known to be endemic to Iceland.

Bjarni K. Kristjánsson, the scientist who found the two species, believes that their presence in Iceland can only be explained if they are leftovers from the last ice age.

From the EurekAlert article:

“Groundwater amphipods are poor at dispersal, and can not be transported with birds or humans,” says Jörundur Svavarsson. One of these new species falls within a new family of amphipods, which indicates that the species has been a long time in Iceland. “The time since the end of the last glaciation is not enough for a family to evolve,” says Svavarsson. Kristjansson and Svavarsson find it likely that the amphipod came to Iceland as early as 30-40 million years ago, when the volcanic island was being formed. “If our theory is right, we have discovered the oldest inhabitants of Iceland, and that can help us further understand how Iceland was formed,” says Kristjansson.

Full article at EurekAlert!

Image credit: Thorkell Heidarsson


Squid Body + Octopus Legs = New Species?

6 July, 2007
octosquid.jpgExcerpt from
original article
by Brittany P. Yap

What appears to be a half-squid, half-octopus specimen found off Keahole Point on the Big Island remains unidentified today and could possibly be a new species, said local biologists.

The specimen was found caught in a filter in one of Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority’s deep-sea water pipelines last week. The pipeline, which runs 3,000 feet deep, sucks up cold, deep-sea water for the tenants of the natural energy lab.

“When we first saw it, I was really delighted because it was new and alive,” said Jan War, operations manager at NELHA. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

According to Richard Young, an oceanography professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the specimen tentatively belongs to the genus Mastigoteuthis, but the species is undetermined.

War, who termed the specimen “octosquid” for the way it looked, said it was about a foot long, with white suction cups, eight tentacles and an octopus head with a squidlike mantle.

Get all the details, and another photo, from the original article at StarBulletin.com.

Find the June 29th announcement of the find at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

**UPDATE!!
July 6, 2007

The specimen [died two days later, then] was preserved and sent to the University of Hawaii-Manoa’s oceanography team, which examined the carcass and today announced the deep-sea squid belongs to an already identified species. However, so little is known about the species that scientists have not yet given it a name.

Read the update and what they’ve learned about the octosquid at National Geographic Online.


New PHYLUM Discovered!

5 July, 2007

November 2, 2006.GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Genetic analysis of an obscure, worm-like creature retrieved from the depths of the North Atlantic has led to the discovery of a new phylum, a rare event in an era when most organisms have already been grouped into major evolutionary categories.

xenoturbellaprocreates.jpg

Scientists have long been puzzled by the half-inch-long creature known by its scientific name of Xenoturbella and first retrieved from the Baltic Sea more than 50 years ago. Early genetic research identified it as a type of mollusk. But then scientists discovered the mollusk-like DNA actually resulted not from the creature itself, but from its close association to clams and likely habit of eating mollusk eggs, Moroz said. The Xenoturbella does not seem to have a brain, gut or gonads, making it unique among living animals.

More precise genomic sequencing at the Whitney Lab – where Moroz and his collaborators identified about 1,300 genes including mitochondrial genes – helped to reveal a surprise: Xenoturbella belongs to its own phylum, a broad class of organisms lying just below kingdom in taxonomic classification. It is one of only about 32 such phyla in the animal kingdom. “During the last 50 to 60 years, only a few new phyla have been established,” Moroz said.

Perhaps more significant, the analysis of Xenoturbella seems to confirm that human beings and other chordates share a common ancestor, a first in science. Its extreme characteristics suggest that this common ancestor – one the creature shares with its sister phyla, echinoderms and hemichordates, as well as chordates — did not have a brain or central nervous system.

Read this entire article at University of Florida News.

Find the BBC News release here.

Palaeos.com has a very good writeup on the Xenoturbella, with explanations of the historical and recent issues of classifying this little marvel .

Side note: When I first started this site, I thought about adding a category for “New Phylum”, but figured it wasn’t likely it would ever be used…. Seems that I needed to ‘free my imagination’! SO! I am thrilled to announce the addition of the new category!

A Squid the Size of a School Bus!

3 July, 2007

squid_big.jpg

From Original Article by Ted Chamberlain, at NationalGeographic.com

February 22, 2007

In Antarctica’s Ross Sea, a fishing boat has caught what is likely the world’s biggest known colossal squid (yes, that’s the species’ name), New Zealand officials announced today.

Heavier than even giant squid, colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) have eyes as wide as dinner plates and sharp hooks on some of their suckers. The new specimen weighs in at an estimated 990 pounds (450 kilograms).

The sea monster had become entangled while feeding on Patagonian toothfish (toothfish photos) caught on long lines of hooks. The crew then maneuvered the squid into a net and painstakingly hauled it aboard—a two-hour process.


Discovery of Furry Crustacean Yields New Family

18 July, 2006

March 2006

Scientists find Yeti Crab!
An international team of marine biologists recently announced the discovery of Kiwa hirsuta, a ten-legged crustacean that resembles a lobster covered with what looks like silky, blond fur. Dubbed the “Yeti crab,” the species was discovered 900 hundred miles south of Easter Island in the South Pacific, living near a hydrothermal vent at an ocean depth of about 7,540 feet. The biologists were conducting a diving cruise to learn how geographical barriers affect the distribution of animals living near vents along the Pacific and Pacific-Antarctic Ridges.

Read the entire article, and find out more about the hairy crab at the fantastic Smithsonian National Zoo website.


Meter Wide Jellyfish Species in California Waters

15 July, 2006

A bizarre new species of jellyfish has been discovered in the deep waters off the Californian coast

The bell-shaped creature spans a metre in diameter and has been nicknamed “big red”, because of its unusual deep red colour. The US and Japanese teams that discovered it say the species deserves its own subfamily.

Tiburonia granrojo was discovered using video cameras on deep-diving remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). Its colour and shape set it apart from its other gelatinous relatives, but it has another unusual characteristic — a complete lack of tentacles.

Instead, the jelly has four to seven fleshy arms that it uses to capture food. While jellyfish species normally can be distinguished by the number of tentacles they have, the number of arms differs between individual big reds.

Read the full article at NewScientist.com


Britain Still Discovering New Species…

7 July, 2006

New species discovered in the Cairngorms
A previously unknown insect has been discovered in the Cairngorm mountains, as well as more than 20 plants, invertebrates and fungi species new to Britain.

The tiny black Christii fly (Ectaetia Christii), which measures just 2mm long and lives under the bark of dead aspen trees, was found during research for a new book released today. The book includes details the 223 species mainly found in the Cairngorms and some 1,153 species for which the Cairngorms are nationally important.

“Scotland is famed for the richness of its wildlife and it is remarkable that, given current scientific knowledge, we are still finding new species to add to that wealthy diversity,” said Rhona Brankin, Deputy Minister for Wildlife.

Full article at Scotsman.com…

Did scientists find this species just in time? For a very interesting article about the effects global warming is having on the Cairngorms, visit Climate Change Action at Blogspot.com for an on-the-scene perspecitve from Calvin Jones.


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