Mary’s Monday Metazoan: You gotta love diversity

Feeling cranky on a Monday morning? Read this story, and not only will it cheer you right up, but you’ll understand why this man is smiling.

Lord Howe Island Stick Insect hatching from Zoos Victoria on Vimeo.

(Also on Sb)


  1. AussieMike says

    I have flown my plane out to Lord Howe (from Brisbane) and on the way back we circled Balls Pyramid. It is an impressively inhospitable place and totally amazing to see from the air. Given the insects are flightless the only way across (I am guessing) is on dead tree material washed off the island but that ocean is no friend to floating insects on logs so they must be tough bastards to do it.

    The rock has no bay or place put ashore. Climbers just boat on up to it and climb from there. You can read more about it here

    It’s an impresive find on many levels.

  2. gvlgeologist says

    All I could think when I saw that video is, “Who needs to go to other planets to find aliens…” Spectacularly beautiful.

  3. Ogvorbis: Now With 98% Less Intellectual Curiousity! says

    That is fandamntastic! Those sticks are amazing.

    Good luck, Aussies, with the PR campaign for the reintroduction.

  4. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    If I had a heart, and it had cockles, they would have become warmer upon reading this story.

  5. says

    I have to admit that my first instinct upon seeing those critters was: Kill it with fire!

    Thankfully, first instincts can be overridden by rationality. I’m amazed that they managed to get to Ball’s Pyramid in the first place, let alone survive in what seems a fairly inhospitable environment. Clearly, they’re as durable as they are… well… imposing.

    I hope they can be effectively reintegrated on Lord Howe Island, though. Perhaps they could team up with the local cats and drive the rats into the sea. Arm the bugs with swords, and saddle up the cats perhaps?

    My reptile brain’s first instinct still concerns me, though. So I propose a deal with the tree lobsters: Don’t sneak up on me, and I won’t freak out and mash you with a shoe.

  6. Doubting Thomas says

    “Awww, snap!
    This video can’t be played with your
    current setup.
    Please switch to a browser that provides
    native H.264 support or install Adobe
    Flash Player.”

    My Firefox does have Adobe Flash player installed, but I’m seeing this more and more. Have to run IE to see it. Sux.

    Cool story though.

  7. McCthulhu, now with Techroline and Retsyn says

    The naming is spot on. Just as with the biblical Adam and Eve from c. 6000 years ago, nature had already constructed the stick-bug Adam and Eve LOOOOONG before, but some people will pretend they were the first ones.

    And the joke that will be making all the entomology circles:

    Q: What’s black and sticky?
    A: Dryococelus australis

  8. unclefrogy says

    great story I am awed by the power and diversity of life on earth. that this insect could get there on that rock and survive is remarkable. This story does illustrate something else related to species survival.
    The demise of the stick insect on Lord Howe isl. was caused by the inadvertent introduction of a new animal namely the black rat which has its own remarkable history of adaptation and radiation. We have that same rat in southern Ca..
    Thee are many such introduced creatures that are causing drastic change in their new environments all over the world. It is possible in some cases to eliminate the new arrivals but probably not all cases. One of the major drawbacks or obstacles is not technical but political and social.
    To restore an animal to its “original” range often requires the utter destruction of the invasive species not all of them are judged as unpleasant as the black rat is.
    If there ever was a job for the gun nuts shooting things I could think of a this would be it.
    but it is just killing living things for “no reason” like cats, pigs, rats, goats, chickens, snakes, burros and horses to name a few introduced and destructive species. Not a very palatable prospect for some.

    uncle frogy

  9. Ogvorbis: Now With 98% Less Intellectual Curiousity! says

    uncle frogy:

    The protests when the NPS was trying to elliminate the burros from the Grand Canyon back in the 1970s were impressive. Both in their vehemance and their ignorance. So, yeah, dealing with habitat destruction does require shitloads of social outreach, education, and, maybe, the occasional cluebat.

  10. woodsong says

    Tree lobsters! Cool!

    I look at that photo, and my inner child says “Wow! That’s the biggest bug EVER! Let ME hold it!” This is the same impulse that led me to grab a queen bumblebee when I was 2 1/2 years old…something I vividly remember! (I still want to pick up cool bugs (and other wiggly things), I’ve just learned to not grab them.)

    The zoo folks should bring a travelling exhibit to Lord Howe Island to visit schools and show the local kids what kind of really cool critters they could find, if they could get rid of the rats. The fact that these critters are plant-eaters (as opposed to, say, blood-suckers), and don’t sting, should help the effort to increase local acceptance. Maybe a local nature center could be set up with a large enclosed space to breed some, where the public could come and get used to them? I’m thinking of the various butterfly places I’ve seen as a potential model.

    Given a choice between encountering one of these insects, or encountering a wild rat, I’ll take the bug any day! Rats bite (and draw blood), spread fleas and disease, eat any food that hasn’t been secured, leave their droppings everywhere, chew holes in your walls, and chew through electrical wires. I like pet rats just fine, I just keep a respectful distance from the wild ones, or set snap-traps for the ones in my walls! And wish there were rat snakes in neighbor’s barn that I could catch and bring home.

  11. carolw says

    I’ll admit, the photo of the grownups gave me a start, but after I read the article I watched the video of the little one hatching and I was rooting for it all the way. I kept thinking, “come on little guy, just three more legs to go, oh you got one more out, you can do it, just two more now, come on, ooh, now just the last one, come on little fella, yay, you did it! You’re gonna make it!” I love stories of species that were presumed lost that were then rediscovered. They give me hope.

  12. unclefrogy says

    looks to me like the only place we are going to see the most biodiversity is in zoos and captive breeding programs some national parks and arboretums.

    must be the monday morning blues to get me in this pissimistic mode.

    uncle frogy

  13. Crudely Wrott says

    Thank you, Uncle Frogy! You just gave me my new-word-of-the-day.


    Sample usage: “I’d like to think a solution is at hand but I’m pissimistic since few are paying attention now and because the problem could have been avoided had just a few been paying attention earlier. Dadburn the dadratted dadgum!”

    Here, Dear Uncle, is your own shiny, new InnerTubes.