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An Amazing Discovery

Fourteen-year-old Davis Marthin Damaledo found a new species of stick bug.

A teenager smiles and poses in front of vegetation as he holds a large green stick bug in an open hand.

Davis Marthin Damaledo

Davis Marthin Damaledo shows off his discovery.

Stick insects aren’t easy to find. Their twig-like bodies help them hide from hungry predators. But during a hike with his dad in 2021, 14-year-old Davis Marthin Damaledo spotted one of these amazing insects. Even more incredibly, the insect Davis found belongs to an undiscovered species!

Davis found the stick insect on the western side of the island of Timor in Indonesia. The teen, who loves nature and is fascinated with insects, thought this one looked unusual. He decided to gently pick up the insect, along with its eggs. When he got home, Davis contacted Garda Bagus Damastra. Garda is the founder of a science collective (an organization people can join in order to share scientific information) that focuses on certain types of insects, including stick insects. Excited to hear about Davis’s discovery, he contacted three entomologists (scientists who study insects).

Together with Davis, the group named the new species of stick insect Nesiophasma sobesonbaii, after a 19th-century ruler of Indonesia, and set about studying it. This included monitoring the eggs Davis had collected and watching as they hatched and the young stick insects grew to adulthood. The full-grown insects can reach 14 inches (36 centimeters) in length!

Three panels show a stick bug resting on a hand over a leaf and sitting on the end of a stick.

Davis Marthin Damaledo

Like other stick bugs, Nesiophasma sobesonbaii blends in with its surroundings.

In 2023, the researchers wrote about the newly discovered species in a scientific journal. They said the species probably lived all over the island of Timor, where there are likely many more species that are still unknown. Davis, who by that time was 17 years old, was named in the article as the person who discovered Nesiophasma sobesonbaii.

“I am proud that my hobby is useful for science,” Davis told Mongabay.

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Fun Fact

Dr. Kenji Suetsugu

If a bird eats a stick insect, the hard-shelled eggs inside the insect can survive the bird’s digestive system and hatch after they’ve been pooped out!

The photos above show stick bug eggs and a stick bug that passed through a bird before it hatched.

Hidden in Plain Sight

A brown stick bug is upside down as it holds onto a thin branch.

© TheUntravelledWorld/stock.adobe.com

Have you ever heard the expression “looks can be deceiving”? It means that things aren’t always what they seem to be. That’s certainly true of stick insects. In fact, it might be hard to find the stick insect in the photo above. These animals, which live all over the world except Antarctica, look like sticks. They hide from hungry predators, like birds and bats, by blending into vegetation. 

The photo below shows another amazing natural disguise. Leaf insects, which are found in Australia and South Asia, are perfectly designed to blend right into real leaves! See if you can spot the leaf insect.

A green leaf insect holds onto leafy vegetation that is nearly the same color.

© Nicolas Gregor/stock.adobe.com

Clever Colors

A ladybug on a leaf, a poison dart frog on a log, an eastern coral snake in grass, and a screech owl in a hollow tree trunk.

 © Darkdiamond67/Shutterstock, © Matthieu Berroneau—Moment Open, Mark Kostich—E+/Getty Images, © Mircea Costina/stock.adobe.com; Photo composite Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Can you guess why each of these animals looks the way it does?

 

Have you ever wondered why leopards have spots or why poisonous snakes are brightly colored? Some animals are designed to blend in with their surroundings. Others are brightly colored to warn other species that they’re poisonous.

 

You can read more about animals and their colors at Britannica!

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Word of the Day

camouflage

Part of speech:

noun

Definition:

: something (such as color or shape) that protects an animal from attack by making the animal difficult to see in the area around it

Definitions provided by
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Criss Cross

The animals in this puzzle have lots of legs! Can you figure out where they all go in this puzzle? 

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