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'Tree Lobsters' Rediscovered After 80 Years On Ball's Pyramid Near Australia (VIDEO)

03/01/2012 02:21 pm ET | Updated Mar 05, 2012

While they were thought to have been the unfortunate victims of non-native rats, a rare species of so-called "tree lobsters" has been found surviving on Ball's Pyramid, part of an old, inactive volcano near Australia.

According to NPR, the six-legged insects, which are about the size of a human hand, were almost wiped out by black rats that invaded nearby Lord Howe Island -- the creatures' native home -- when a British supply ship ran aground there in 1918.

Then, in 2001, two scientists found the surviving tree lobsters living in a bush atop Ball's Pyramid, some 13 miles southeast of Lord Howe Island. How they got there and survived for all these years is still a mystery to scientists.

The Age explains that, as part of an effort to increase the species' population, zookeepers used glasshouses to reproduce the humid environment favored by the tree lobsters.

The program has been a success and the zoo will breed its tenth generation this year, according to The Age.

The next step for tree lobster advocates is to convince the people of Lorde Howe to exterminate the island's rats in order to make it habitable for the insects once again, an endeavor which could prove very expensive.

The Awl's Dave Bry writes that the whole story "brings up some of the same very powerful emotions as the last page of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road."

Watch a "tree lobster" being born in the video above.

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