Also initially the insect might break the egg/cocoon open without extra air, just by simple mechanics, but once it's out it starts to pump air into itself.
Initially I didn't like the genetic bottleneck created by just having one pair (i.e. that they should go back and get more now that they know how to care for them, perhaps as a swap) - but then I realized the original source on the island was probably a single individual, so they are all probably virtually clones anyway.
Once they have enough they should sell some - tons of people would be delighted to keep them as pets, and it would remove the risk of having them in just one location.
Now, marketing them as pets to residents of Lord Howe Island might be a good way to get them to accept repopulation...
That's probably a problem when trying to save any endangered species. Given the challenges (and time investment) of animal husbandry, I'm surprised that cloning of endangered series is not more common. Even if the clones are genetically identical, at least they buy you some more time to save them.
Thus there's a couple of drivers here. People want to undo past mistakes. Maybe this is misplaced, maybe "we" should be concentrating on avoiding this happening again. The science is interesting. There's a bunch of different disciplines that could be involved here. A hero animal (the huge bug is both cute and horrifying) always gets attention.
The big difference is that humans didn't wipe out wooly mammoths. Also, they are huge and they would be hard to provide enough land for. (I'm not sure how climate change would affect them; what lands and climate do you need for viable herds of mammoth?)
 But see the Northern Hairy Nose Wombat. Most people haven't heard of this, yet there are only about 70 left alive.
What do you consider worth preserving?
Does the fact that humans introduced rats into the ecosystem that wiped them out count for anything to you?
(Are rats the invisible hand of the market or something?)
I'm guessing in advance that we're going to have to agree to disagree, or more likely, this conversation will peter out unfinished, but I'll have a go at explaining my position.
The Earth is a finite enclosed ecosystem to all intents and purposes. Humans have existed for a small fraction of time compared to the entire life of the planet. In a few short centuries, we've unified all ecosystems under the one ubiquitous umbrella.
For scientific reasons, isolated species such as these should be preserved. To study, inform and provide living examples of the diversity of life that existed before the ubiquity of modern human civilisation eradicated so much.
The religious right in the US would like us to believe in Noah's Ark rather than evolution. Creatures such as these... adapted in an isolated island to grow fat and large, without competition from mammalian predators on connected land-masses, shine a light on Darwinian evolution.
And from a purely 'awwww' perspective (and if you don't think that counts for anything, you're a robot), these critters kept many to hundreds to hundreds-of-thousands of years of generations going and survived in a single outcrop of rock against all odds. Fucking evolutionary heroes if you ask me.
We're now the dominant life-form on earth. We're looking for microbial life under two miles of ice in the Antarctic in Lake Vladivostok. We're sending rovers to Mars looking for microbial life.
We've GOT A FUCKING ALIEN-LIKE SPECIES LIVING ON AN OCEAN OUTCROP HERE ON EARTH.
A complex, beautiful, rare insect (did you watch the hatching vid?)... and you wonder why it's worth keeping it around?
These are two contradictory statements in one statement. Either we preserve, in which case there is no
'before' in your sentence (because there is no eradication), or we don't, and we document what once existed. I'll interpret your intent as being 'we should preserve all species so that we can study them and let people know about them'. But then again the question becomes 'why'. Not everything is worthy of study or preservation. With several millions of different species of insects alone, some just being random mutations of others, why should we exhaustively catalog all of them? They are just the result of randomness, we ended up where we are out of stochasticity. What is the underlying reason to preserve a random state of nature? Change is natural, things come and go, so do species - nothing out of the ordinary about it.
"Creatures such as these... adapted in an isolated island to grow fat and large, without competition from mammalian predators on connected land-masses, shine a light on Darwinian evolution."
Please tell what they tell us, or might tell us, that we don't know yet, and what we can learn from them that requires a full reintroduction into existing ecosystems of them.
"And from a purely 'awwww' perspective"
Ignoring the ad hominem fallacious reasoning, they have nothing that makes them so special that only they could survive these circumstance and that we can learn from; just a dumb coming together of circumstances, survivor bias.
"We've GOT A FUCKING ALIEN-LIKE SPECIES LIVING ON AN OCEAN OUTCROP HERE ON EARTH."
Here I'm losing you completely. What is 'alien-like' about them, except from having the same color as the antagonist in the 'alien' movie series? They're just big bugs, so what? I seems like you're trying to say that because they look like something movie producers imagined hostile alien life forms would look like, that that makes them worthy of special treatment? Why would you put such value into something - just because it looks like a CGI effect from a Hollywood movie?
"A complex, beautiful, rare insect (did you watch the hatching vid?)... and you wonder why it's worth keeping it around?"
None of the things you mention in the first part of your sentence indicate in any way why one would expend effort at keeping it, it all falls back on circular reasoning and 'because it's unique'. Not everything that is unique is worth keeping. I have a broken pencil here on my desk that is in its shape statistically very likely to be unique in the whole world. I'll still throw it away.
I can't speak for the OP, obviously, but I'm in favor of preserving particular states of nature for essentially aesthetic reasons: I want to keep a copy around for when evolution moves on and species change niches or go extinct. I like keeping track of the information, too.
I won't pretend that's "natural" though. If it's anything it's pretty explicitly anti-natural. I wouldn't necessarily recommend reintroducing them into their original environment either, unless said reintroduction wasn't disruptive (to either the environment or the locals).
Some species also need to be kept around for reasons of ecosystem integrity (system being the operative word there), but these particular insects don't appear to fall under that heading.
Well I'm glad I got the opportunity to chat with you sir, and your smarts shut me down. I'll shut up now.
Let me know when I can talk, and in the meantime
I'm quite confused, first you say you want to discuss, but then you get all snarky and dismissive on me without going into the substance of the discussion. If there are any rational reasons to want to preserve as many species as possible, I'd like to be convinced. I was just pointing out that your arguments weren't phrased consistently, and then went on to explain my interpretation of what you were trying to say, so as to not get stuck in pedanticism or requiring too much thought into what is, after all, an informal discussion. I'm just trying to make my interpretations of your words explicit by way of explaining the process that led to them, yet you seem to interpret it as an ad hominem.
Maybe re-introducing a mammoth would be cool as a tourist attraction. I don't care much for it, but if others want to do it, great for them (but don't make governments pay for it, obviously).
(There had been an earlier attempt in 1964 by another Sydney team, which included adventurer Dick Smith and other members of the Scouting movement. They were forced to turn back on their fifth day, running short of food and water. In 1979, Smith returned to the pyramid, together with climbers John Worrall and Hugh Ward. They successfully reached the summit and unfurled a flag of New South Wales provided to them by Premier Neville Wran, declaring the island Australian territory (a formality which it seems had not previously been done).)
[Apparently the house belongs to Bjork].
Looks literally out of this world.
Now I'll actually have an interesting conversation with him for once!
For example, during the Beijing Olympics, various coaches and commentators unfortunately verbified 'medal'. The resulting sentences were not pleasant...
In my experience, I see it's very, very common to turn a noun as a verb, in informal contexts. Do you people still bother to make a distinction?
They look just about damn disgusting, but the mental image produced by that paragraph was just so... heart-warming.
That's actually a downside.
Sharks are cool and they're almost never dangerous, at least to divers.
Yes, things are different for surface folk who insist on looking like a seal from below.
I despise rats. Yet I find it disconcerting that the author just brushes this off as a triviality. We are perfectly happy saving one species by wiping out another.
I don't imagine that black rats will become extinct, but we should not pretend as though the prospect of "wiping out" local populations of any species is anything other than a morally ambiguous activity.
Invasive species cause havoc and removing them (whether by killing or by trapping) is hard but useful work.
 See hedgehogs on some obscure Scots islands.
April 2005 - Animal rights activists are trying to rescue hedgehogs as an annual cull gets under way in the Outer Hebrides.
October 2005 - Protest over annual hedgehog cull
April 2007 - The board of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has decided to suspend its cull of hedgehogs in the Western Isles.
February 2010 - Hebridean hedgehogs: a prickly issue
The Uists cull has already cost more than £1m, but we should question the causal link between bird and hedgehog populations
February 2011 - £1.3m hedgehog cull to save islands' birds eggs 'fails'
> invasive fish species all over the world
> introduced by humans for "sport"
Also, Florida has a lot of iguanas (which are non-native), especially in the Everglades, you just don't hear much about it because the pythons are a larger issue.
However, cockroaches actually aren't any better at surviving radiation than any other species, mythbusters tried it.
Granted we would have to figure out a different neuro chemistry or physiology for having human level cognition on a much smaller energy budget.
Our top story, the population of parasitic tree lizards has exploded, and local citizens couldn't be happier! It seems the rapacious reptiles have developed a taste for the common pigeon, also known as the 'feathered rat', or the 'gutter bird'. For the first time, citizens need not fear harassment by flocks of chattering disease-bags.
Later, Bart receives an award from Mayor Quimby outside the town hall. Several lizards slink past.
For decimating our pigeon population, and making Springfield a less oppressive place to while away our worthless lives, I present you with this scented candle.
Skinner talks to Lisa.
Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.
But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?
No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.
But aren't the snakes even worse?
Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
But then we're stuck with gorillas!
No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.
'Look, I can explain,' he said.
Lord Vetinari lifted an eyebrow with the care of one who, having found
--Terry Pratchett, _Making Money_
I believe introducing some small wild cat population would be a right thing to do, tho I would like to hear opinions of experts.
Edit: I don't think cats are invasive in the way rats are
The Stephens Island Wren is an excellent example of this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephens_Island_Wren
Introducing a foreign species into an ecosystem has failed spectacularly so many times I cannot believe people still propose it.
Not on islands. That's why islands have such unique animals found nowhere else.
Snakes or other crawling rat predators would probably be a better idea, but then trying to convince the island people to share their space with snakes and weird looking insects at the same time would probably not go well :)
And its good to keep rats busy. They won't wander as freely as they do now and hence eat less insects.
> When the team went back to collect them, it turned out there had been a rock slide on the mountain, and at first they feared that the whole population had been wiped out.
This is why you just do things, bureaucrats be damned. Better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.
On the other hand, I might just be taking this stance because I'm so unfamiliar with biological studies in general, and if I knew more, I'd happily take a more gung-ho attitude towards these things.
If the researchers and biologists felt it was the right play (which they did), it seems like a dangerous risk to wait for committees of non-scientists to make a political decision based on it.
We've definitely lost something here. As Peter Thiel noted: 
There are ways that the government is working far less well than it used to.
Just outside my office is the Golden Gate Bridge. It was built under FDR's
Administration in the 1930s in about three and a half years. They're currently
building an access highway on one of the tunnels that feeds into the bridge,
and it will take at least six years to complete.
They had been on the island and survived for 80 years, though it probably wasn't a picnic..
Imagine if the scientists had tripped a landslide over the habitat? What if the entire population had gone the way of the first two and died within two weeks?
It seems to me that in this case careful consideration probably saved the species rather than risk its survival.
Just imagine how fulfilling it felt as the first insect escaped from its vacuum pack...serious wow moment i imagine. I wish i was that valuable to this world...
"The ultimate goal is to produce a large population for re-introduction to Lord Howe Island if the project to eradicate the invasive rats is successful."
I wonder what the 347 residents of Lord Howe Island think about this? It's an amazing story and all, but I sure wouldn't want a bunch of these insects introduced into my neighborhood.
Though it seems like even if the government eradicates the rats it will only be a question of time before they're back.
By expanding our collective horizons, we are able to extrapolate useful information and perhaps even apply it to our jobs or startups. For example, ant colony optimization came about by studying ants - not exactly what the OP would consider HN material. Genetic algorithms came about by studying genetics, mutations, and all things Darwin.
So instead of asking, "why is this on HN," we should ask ourselves or each other "how/what can we learn from this and apply it to our fields?"
> On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.
> Off-Topic: Most stories about politics, or crime, or sports, unless they're evidence of some interesting new phenomenon. Videos of pratfalls or disasters, or cute animal pictures. If they'd cover it on TV news, it's probably off-topic.
There are very many places where such discussions are welcome.
Saying that, i see that this kind of exploration with rewards like a previous thought extinct specimens is a "hack" of nature, it was an investment, a climb to the top and a reward :) . Therefore it is hacker news.
I do not envy being in that situation, where a mistake seals the fate of a pretty awesome bug.
Something that annihilates both mice AND giant insects
For this particular species of insect however, having the last 24 remaining individuals of the entire species (presumably) be dependent on a single small shrubbery makes me think the effort put into this rescue was more than warranted.
Specially considering their extinction was (indirectly) our fault and a mistake that could have been prevented with better education and oversight on who and what was brought along during our travels. Had their extinction been an entirely natural process, I might have agreed that their rescue would not have been such a high priority.
Of course there is the question of us disturbing ecological balance somewhere is natural or not. We are after all natural beings ourselves. Whether we are intelligent or not and have the capacity to reason about our actions is irrelevant in a strictly biological sense. But this discussion opens up a whole different can of worms.
edit: Fixed some grammar.
On the scale of human activities to cease, preservation of an insect species isn't something I would stop. There are much more fruitful candidates.
Also I'm going to drop back to an argument I hold near and dear. Lots of people are terrible, they hurt other people for their own gain. We start wars just because someone doesn't believe the same things as ourselves. We go out of our way to put others down with words just because we think that since words can't hurt then it must be okay to say whatever. All in all it's rather sad that a human being which is supposed to be superior to all other forms of life doesn't have the empathy to want to fix a problem we made for these animals in the first place. Call me crazy but as a human I'd like to leave things in a better state then they were in when I got here.
When we can duplicate those results in an hour on a desktop PC, I'll agree with you. I'm not holding my breath.
There is no reason to believe that this is an optimum. (That is, an optimum for its environment, or any extant environment. Since, of course, a very wide range of possible forms are optimal for SOME environment, like the environment with a mad god that kills all life forms that do not exactly match XYZ, but that sort of reasoning is obviously just silly). Anyway, blethering aside, my point here is that if you think existing species are at all likely to be "optimal" in any meaningful sense, you have likely misunderstood evolution.
Or because of their large size, we could farm and grow them as alternative food source?
Unfortunately, it requires a subscription to read now.
Actually, it's probably not bad, and bugs can be very efficient to farm.
Also, consider this, we are not messing with any balances or natural orders. We are in fact fixing a problem that we caused when we brought the black rats over in the first place.
Also both people and black rats are overpopulating this planet.
We all have hobbies and passions.