Extinct ‘tree lobster’ found alive clinging to side of Pacific rock taller than Empire State Building

By | March 2, 2012

Ball's Pyramid, Lord Howe Island: The 'tree lobsters' were found clinging to the side of the tallest sea stack in the world Nick Carlile, seen here with the Lord Howe Island stick insect, discovered the thought-to-be extinct phasmid on Ball's PyramidA narrow and forbidding rock that stands higher than the Empire State Building, it does not look like the most welcoming place to set up home.

But that did not stop an insect which was thought to be extinct for 80 years from building its last known colony on the 1,844ft high Ball’s Pyramid.

Scientists have discovered 24 of the creatures living 500ft above the South Pacific Ocean around the single plant that had survived on the rock.

The ‘tree lobster’ insect, which is as large as a human hand, had somehow made its camp despite the lack of food and the harsh conditions.

Nobody could say how they got there in the first place – but four have now been taken off and have bred thousands more to ensure their species survives.

The astonishing discovery was made on Ball’s Pyramid which emerged from the sea seven million years ago off the coast of Australia near Lord Howe Island.

It is the equivalent of 11 Nelson’s Columns stuck one on top of the other. The Empire State building is only two thirds as tall at 1,250ft.

On all sides the rock face drops off vertically making it almost impossible for anything to survive – but the insects somehow did.

The six legged ‘tree lobster’ or, Dryococelus australis, was actually presumed extinct since none had been seen on Lord Howe Island since 1920.

They are 12cm long and are the heaviest flightless stick insect in the world.

In 2001 Australian scientists David Priddel and Nicholas Carlile decided to investigate claims by climbers who tackled Ball’s Pyramid that they had seen fresh droppings there.

They too saw the droppings and upon returning after dark with flashlights were stunned to discover the insect colony around the only plant on the rock.

Mr Carlile said: ‘It felt like stepping back into the Jurassic age, when insects ruled the world.’ …

via Extinct ‘tree lobster’ found alive clinging to side of Pacific rock taller than Empire State Building | Mail Online.

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