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This Tiny, Lifeless Island in the South Pacific is Home of the World’s Rarest Insect

Inah Garcia

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The Ball’s Pyramid is a unique land structure found in the The South Pacific, near the Australian east coast. It resembles a castle that has come out of the depths of the ocean in all its glory and magnificence.

What is more interesting is that this structure is actually a remnant of an ancient volcano that emerged from the ocean about 8 million years ago.

A British naval officer, Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball, discovered it in 1788. It is extremely narrow, 1,844 feet high, and it sits alone in the vast ocean.

Beautiful Remnant of the Ancient Times.
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Photo credit: Viral Nova
It is what’s left of an old volcano that emerged from the sea about 8 million years ago.
Balls-Pyramid-Amazing
Photo credit: Next Trip Tourism

Considered as a lifeless island, this rocky spire actually has a very interesting 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? Nobody knows!

No, this isn’t a make-believe place. It’s real.
balls-pyramid-lord-howe
Photo credit: Slate

Now, here’s a very interesting history. About 13 miles from Ball’s pyramid, there’s a bigger island, called Lord Howe Island.

Lord Howe Island was used to be the home of Tree Lobsters.
lord-howe-island
Photo credit: Next Trip Tourism

It used to be a habitat for a type of giant stick insect that masquerades as a piece of wood, and the Lord Howe Island version was so huge — as big as a human hand — that the Europeans called it a “tree lobster” because of its size and hard, lobster-like exoskeleton.

Ball’s Pyramid is located between Australia and New Zealand.

Sometime in 1918, a supply ship, the S.S. Makambo from Britain, ran aground at Lord Howe Island, causing its rats to escape and prey on the tree lobsters. With no natural predators, and the abundance of delicious tree lobsters, the rats immediately became dominant on the island. Two years later, the rats were everywhere and the tree lobsters were totally gone.

The Ball’s Pyramid as seen from a Satellite.
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Photo credit: Viralnova

After 1920, there wasn’t a single sighting of “tree lobsters”. By 1960, the Lord Howe stick insect, Dryococelus australis, was presumed extinct.

Then came a rumor. A bunch of 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.

The Europeans called this bug “tree lobsters” because that’s what it looked like.
giant-creatures-island-1
Photo credit: Rod Morris

Fast forward to 2001, scientists David Priddel and Nicholas Carlile went to the Ball’s Pyramid to find the nocturnal tree lobsters. The team set out during the night in the hope of finding what is believed to be extinct. The search went well, and they were able to find a total of 24 live tree lobsters in the bushes of the Ball’s Pyramid.

Shiny and Slimy but Totally Beautiful!
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Photo credit: Viralnova

“It felt like stepping back into the Jurassic age, when insects ruled the world,” Carlile said.

They decided to take two pairs of insects (two males and two females) to Australia. Although one pair died, the other successfully mated and soon the female bug started laying eggs. The pair was named Adam and Eve. By 2008, a total of 700 adult tree lobsters and 11,000 eggs have been produced.

Hello there…
giant-creatures-island-2
Photo credit: Rod Morris

Deliberation about bringing the tree lobsters back to the island is ongoing, as several factors are considered threats to the bugs’ life if they are brought home.

First, the pesky rats may continue to invade them and the residents of the island are not really comfortable with the idea of these giant, prehistoric-looking stick-bugs showing up in their yards and homes.

So, recently, there was a PR campaign that aims to make the people feel more comfortable about welcoming back the tree lobsters. They might not be the cutest insect out there, but they’re really harmless.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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