A gigantic stick insect that is sometimes known as the "tree lobster" that lived on a remote Australian island isn't extinct after all.
A massive stick insect that was thought to be extinct has reemerged on a remote Australian island, scientists say. The Lord Howe Island stick insect is sometimes called the “tree lobster” due to their huge, black bodies that can be up to six inches long, and for decades it was thought to have been extinct.
The insect was almost totally wiped out back in 1918 after a shipwreck on the island released a horde of rats that reproduced and multiplied on the island thanks to a lack of natural enemies. Authorities believed the stick insect was extinct by 1983, along with about a dozen over insect species along with about five speces of bird.
A group of rock climbers came upon some remains of these stick creatures in 1960 on a volcanic rock island nearby named Ball’s Pyramid, and in 2001 researchers returned to find what appeared to be living specimens of the Lord Howe Island stick insects. These were collected and put in a captive breeding program at the Melbourne Zoo, but scientists weren’t sure it was the elusive species, until now. Genome sequencing conducted on the insects indicates a virtual exact match with museum specimens.