World's Rarest Insect found on Rocky Spire

Dylan Thuras is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Dylan is a travel blogger and the co-founder of the Atlas Obscura: A Compendium of the World's Wonders, Curiosities, and Esoterica, with Joshua Foer.

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Ball's Pyramid is fairly amazing at first glance. However it wasn't until 2001 on a much closer inspection of the island, that scientists realized just how amazing the island, and its inhabits, really were

The remnants of a once massive volcano, Ball's Pyramid juts 1,843 feet out of the Pacific ocean. Discovered in 1788, the barren, rocky spire was thought to be devoid of life until 2001 when a group of scientists discovered what may be the world's rarest insect.

The Lord Howe Island stick insect (Dryococelus australis) had not been seen alive in over 70 years. Known as "land lobsters" or "walking sausages," the six inch long insects had once been common on the neighboring Lord Howe Island, but were assumed to have been eaten into extinction by black rats introduced when a supply ship ran aground in 1918.

Yet in 2001 the scientists found a colony of the huge Lord Howe Island stick insects living under a single bush, a hundred feet up the otherwise entirely infertile rock. Somehow a few of the wingless insects escaped and managed--by means still unknown--to traverse 23 kilometers of open ocean, land on Ball's Pyramid, and survive there. Just 27 of the insects have been found on the rocky spire. They are currently being bred in captivity.

Links to Ball's Pyramid on the Atlas and a link to the fact sheet on the Lord Howe Island stick insect.

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