Discovering Phasmids

Shortly after a rat infested supply ship ran around in Lord Howe Island off the east coast of Australia in 1918, the newly introduced mammals wiped out the island's phasmids—stick insects the size of a human hand. 

By | June 9, 2012

In Ball's pyramid, a giant rock island jutting out of the ocean off the coast of Australia, scientists discovered a population of stick insects thought to have gone extinct in the early 20th century.

In Ball's pyramid, a giant rock island jutting out of the ocean off the coast of Australia, scientists discovered a population of stick insects thought to have gone extinct in the early 20th century.

GOOGLE EARTH, NICHOLAS CARLILE

Discovering Phasmids Image Gallery

Shortly after a rat infested supply ship ran around in Lord Howe Island off the east coast of Australia in 1918, the newly introduced mammals wiped out the island's phasmids—stick insects the size of a human hand. Ever since, phasmids have been considered extinct. But beginning in the 1960s, daring mountain climbers attempting to climb the nearby island of Ball's Pyramid—the tallest sea stack in the world—began noticing skeletal remains of giant stick insects. Over the next decades, several expeditions in search of phasmids were made to the foreboding island, but "the mistake they made was that they went looking for [phasmids] during the day," says Nicholas Carlile, an ecologist for the state of New South Wales (NSW) Office of Environment and Heritage. In 2001, Carlile and a small team set out for Ball’s Pyramid and succeeded in spotting the first phasmid in 80 years.

Read "Finding Phasmids."

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