JCC Island of endangered, giant "Tree Lobsters" discovered

Discussion in 'Community' started by Ghost, Mar 3, 2012.

  1. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6

    Six-Legged Giant Finds Secret Hideaway, Hides For 80 Years

    by Robert Krulwich




    No, this isn't a make-believe place. It's real.

    [image=http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2012/02/24/balls_pyramid.jpg]

    They call it "Ball's Pyramid." It's what's left of an old volcano that emerged from the sea about 7 million years ago. A British naval officer named Ball was the first European to see it in 1788. It sits off Australia, in the South Pacific. It is extremely narrow, 1,844 feet high, and it sits alone.

    What's more, for years this place had a secret. At 225 feet above sea level, hanging on the rock surface, there is a small, spindly little bush, and under that bush, a few years ago, two climbers, working in the dark, found something totally improbable hiding in the soil below. How it got there, we still don't know.

    [image=http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2012/02/27/lord_howe_topview.jpg]

    Here's the story: About 13 miles from this spindle of rock, there's a bigger island, called Lord Howe Island.

    On Lord Howe, there used to be an insect, famous for being big. It's a stick insect, a critter that masquerades as a piece of wood, and the Lord Howe Island version was so large ? as big as a human hand ? that the Europeans labeled it a "tree lobster" because of its size and hard, lobsterlike exoskeleton. It was 12 centimeters long and the heaviest flightless stick insect in the world. Local fishermen used to put them on fishing hooks and use them as bait.

    [image=http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2012/02/27/patrick_custom.jpg]

    Then one day in 1918, a supply ship, the S.S. Makambo from Britain, ran aground at Lord Howe Island and had to be evacuated. One passenger drowned. The rest were put ashore. It took nine days to repair the Makambo, and during that time, some black rats managed to get from the ship to the island, where they instantly discovered a delicious new rat food: giant stick insects. Two years later, the rats were everywhere and the tree lobsters were gone.

    Totally gone. After 1920, there wasn't a single sighting. By 1960, the Lord Howe stick insect, Dryococelus australis, was presumed extinct.

    There was a rumor, though.

    [image=http://www.npr.org/news/graphics/2012/02/map-lord-howe-island-300.gif]

    Some climbers scaling Ball's Pyramid in the 1960s said they'd seen a few stick insect corpses lying on the rocks that looked "recently dead." But the species is nocturnal, and nobody wanted to scale the spire hunting for bugs in the dark.

    Climbing The Pyramid

    Fast forward to 2001, when two Australian scientists, David Priddel and Nicholas Carlile, with two assistants, decided to take a closer look. From the water, they'd seen a few patches of vegetation that just might support walking sticks. So, they boated over. ("Swimming would have been much easier," Carlile said, "but there are too many sharks.") They crawled up the vertical rock face to about 500 feet, where they found a few crickets, nothing special. But on their way down, on a precarious, unstable rock surface, they saw a single melaleuca bush peeping out of a crack and, underneath, what looked like fresh droppings of some large insect.

    Where, they wondered, did that poop come from?

    The only thing to do was to go back up after dark, with flashlights and cameras, to see if the pooper would be out taking a nighttime walk. Nick Carlile and a local ranger, Dean Hiscox, agreed to make the climb. And with flashlights, they scaled the wall till they reached the plant, and there, spread out on the bushy surface, were two enormous, shiny, black-looking bodies. And below those two, slithering into the muck, were more, and more ... 24 in all. All gathered near this one plant.

    [image=http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2012/02/24/ecu_img_stick-insects---dryococelus-australis-44.jpg]

    They were alive and, to Nick Carlile's eye, enormous. Looking at them, he said, "It felt like st
  2. duende Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 28, 2006
    star 5
    [image=http://sandbox.yoyogames.com/extras/image/name/san2/474/448474/original/screenshot101.png]

    ryu has already cleared that level and has eliminated all the tree lobsters.
  3. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    This article would only have been cool were they actual lobsters living in the trees. With claws and everything. This is just a giant insect.
  4. Rogue_Follower Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2003
    star 6
    If it's crustaceans you want, check out coconut crabs: giant, land-dwelling crabs that climb trees. With claws and everything.
  5. jp-30 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 14, 2000
    star 9
    Fantastic story, thanks for posting it.
  6. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    Seriously. They at least could've been red!
  7. Aytee-Aytee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2008
    star 5
    So....by "tree lobster" you really mean "rock locust", right?
  8. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2003
    star 8
    "It felt like stepping back into the Jurassic age, when insects ruled the world."
    Um, surely reptiles ruled the world in the Jurassic. Given that, you know, it was the peak era of the Dinosaurs.


    I am pleased to see an rare island species protected at last. When I first heard of this, I worried these insects would suffer the same fates as the Great Auk, which ended up confined to Eldey Island where it became extinct due to the actions of man (and again the introduction of rats).

    Luckily insects produce at a high rate so protecting this species should be easier. Plus we have better protection methods in place and means to enforce them properly.
  9. Aytee-Aytee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2008
    star 5
    Not to mention the Park era. :p


    EDIT -- I'd also like to add that if the day ever actually comes that I realize my plans for global domination/evil super-villainy, I'm totally making Ball's Pyramid one of my fortresses.

    I shall also genetically engineer my own brand of "Tree Lobsters" for use as guard dogs. They will be 6 foot long, aggressive, intelligent, carnivorous, and have prehensile tails.

    They will also have a natural buttery flavor.
  10. Darth Morella Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 5, 2004
    star 6
    Lobsters only turn red after you cook them :p

    Anyway, that was a fascinating read.
  11. Aytee-Aytee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2008
    star 5
    Not the mutant ones.
    [image=http://conservationreport.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/yellow-lobster_.jpg]
  12. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2003
    star 8
    Lobsters come in many colours, including red, white, blue & yellow. The Albino ones don't go red when cooked.
    Some even come in two colours, but that is very rare.
  13. Armenian_Jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 14, 2003
    star 7
    I looked at the pictures before I read the story and thought, "Ew gross."


    Then I read the story and went, "Aww, SAVE THEM!"




    That is all.
  14. darth_gersh Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2005
    star 6
    They might be the cure for cancer.
  15. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Are they edible for humans? A great way to keep a species alive is to domesticate it as a food source. These are big bugs. One or two of them might make a nutritious and tasty meal. Giant bugs could be to Lord Howe Island what Cuy chactado is to the Peruvian Andes.
  16. Kiki-Gonn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 26, 2001
    star 6
    And what about the poor rats in all this? Surely they're close to extinction too.
  17. Healer_Leona Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 7, 2000
    star 9
    Fascinating insect. Strange how the bigger they are the less I find them gross.
  18. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    :(
  19. EmpireForever Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 15, 2004
    star 8
    And pigs only become bacon after you slaughter them.
  20. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
  21. Mortimer_Snerd Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 14, 2004
    star 6
    What a cool place!

    *adds Ball's Pyramid to bucket list*

  22. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2000
    star 10
    That was a cool story. Don't be emo.
  23. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    I didn't actually read the article. I never got over my disappointment about the lack of arboreal crustaceans.
  24. jp-30 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 14, 2000
    star 9
    Here you go Wox.

    [image=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8a/Birgus_latro_%28Bora-Bora%29.jpg/220px-Birgus_latro_%28Bora-Bora%29.jpg]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut_crab

    Once satiated, read Ghost's article. It's the best thing he's ever cut & pasted.
  25. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Gee, thanks :p It is a great story though!