Some 370 miles off Australia's east coast, in the Lord Howe Island Group, researchers have discovered a creature long thought to be extinct--a stick insect known as Dryococelus australis. Although these wingless beasts once populated Lord Howe island in large numbers, rats accidentally introduced after a shipwreck in 1918 killed them off. A few of them, however, appear to have survived.
Scientists from the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service found a trio of these walking sticks and a number of eggs in a single bush on Balls Pyramid, a rocky outcrop about 10 miles south of Lord Howe. The shiny, reddish-brown insects, which measure six inches long and about half-an-inch wide, dwell in damp rocky crevices by day and come out at night to feed.
"The thrill of seeing these long-lost animals," Australian scientist Nicholas Carlile told Reuters, "made us feel like we had been transported back to another time when they once dominated the night-time forests of this magical group of islands."