Behold, the tree lobster. (Spoiler: not a lobster)

We like to bring you the occasional large invertebrate on this blog. And even a huge vertebrate now and then. But here’s a big insect with a story to tell. And it’s a story that hasn’t – quite – ended yet.

Lord Howe Island stick insect (Dryococelus australis) (c) Granitethighs
Lord Howe Island stick insect (Dryococelus australis)

The Lord Howe Island Stick Insect, or Tree Lobster, Dryococelus australis, is one of the largest insect species in the world. It is a flightless phasmid that lives on trees in the isolated Lord Howe Island chain off the Australian coast. These great creatures were once common enough to be used regularly as fishing bait, but in 1918 a supply ship ran aground there and accidentally introduced the black rat. By 1920 the tree lobster was thought to be extinct, a casualty of the voracious rats which cut a swathe through the native island ecosystem. Continue reading Behold, the tree lobster. (Spoiler: not a lobster)

Under the Pier

“Ever seen a sponge garden or spotted a star ascidian? Now’s your chance! Join Spectrum’s Natural Wight and Ian Boyd from Arc for a unique rockpooling opportunity and discover the amazing array of marine life living under Ryde Pier.”

This is the video we made when we accepted that invitation on a sunny Ryde afternoon. have a look at the fun on the sand, and some of the exciting marine wildlife we saw. Not to mention how far out we went!

Nice legs! The world’s leggiest animal is rediscovered.

Last seen in 1928, the colobognath millipede Illacme plenipes is thought to have more legs than any other animal on earth – one female was found with 750 legs, while the males are thought to have a maximum of 562. Despite its legginess the species is actually quite small, even relative to other millipedes. Females grow to just over an inch long; males are slightly smaller. Now scientists from the University of Arizona have rediscovered this elusive beast, and here’s a video of it.

Continue reading Nice legs! The world’s leggiest animal is rediscovered.

A shrimp on a treadmill to the tune of Benny Hill

Persisting with the Ranger’s long-standing interest in bizarre invertebrates, the latest addition to his virtual menagerie is this video, enigmatically titled “A shrimp on a treadmill to the tune of Benny Hill”:

This is one of the funniest things the Ranger has seen online for a long time. Which probably says something about the internet.

Tippers’ Walk the Wight timelapse

A wonderful bit of rapid-fire sightseeing from IW media personality and Twitter impresario Tippers.

Tippers writes:

Walk the Wight is an annual event on the Isle of Wight to raise money for the Earl Mountbatten Hospice. It is a 26.5 mile trek from one end of the island to the other. Along the way, you encounter some pretty rough terrain and some killer, seemingly everlasting, hills. Every year, some 10,000 plus people enter and raise thousands for a very good cause.

A spider crab sheds its skin

Here’s a speeded-up video showing the remarkable process whereby a spider-crab sheds its skin. Pretty much all arthropods undergo this process of ecdysis during development. Imagine pulling your legs out of those!

You can see the results of this for yourself – no need to go to Japan. Next time you find a dead spider in your house, look carefully. Does it look rather faint and thin? Has the top been flipped up like a bin-lid? If so, you could be looking at a miniature version of the exuvium the crab in this video leaves behind. Via Boing Boing

Zebra spider is fooled

Here’s a video shot by enterprising spider-enthusiast Cat, showing a tiny but hungry zebra spider in action. As it’s so weeny you are most strongly advised to select the HD version and fullscreen option if you’re able to, as you’ll see much more detail.

This tiny drama is a great insight into the world of the hunting spider. Clever Cat managed to get it on a white background – it’s very rarely so easy to see this kind of interaction. One thing I noticed is how these little things really do have 360° vision – you’ll see quite clearly that at one point the spider noticed the fly when it was facing directly away from it. Also, look out for the ‘pouncing posture’ – just like a cat getting ready to jump on its prey, the jumping spider gets ready for a jump with a characteristic pose. And the anthropomorphism? I’m as guilty as the next frog.