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'Extinct' wood-eating cockroach rediscovered after 80 years

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

A large wingless wood-eating cockroach, unique to Australia's Lord Howe Island and thought extinct since the 1930s, has been rediscovered by a University of Sydney biology student.

"For the first 10 seconds or so, I thought 'No, it can't be'," said Maxim Adams, an Honors student under Professor Nathan Lo at the University of Sydney's School of Biological Sciences. "I mean, I lifted the first rock under this huge banyan tree, and there it was."

The unique Lord Howe Island wood-feeding cockroach (Panesthia lata), once widespread across the archipelago, was thought to have become extinct following the arrival of rats on the island in 1918. Over the next few decades, searches uncovered scattered populations of close relatives on two tiny islands offshore. But the group rediscovered is genetically different from those.


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